Vinta grounds 30 flights, strands 200 passengers
Christmas is the best time to go home especially for Filipinos who spend months working overseas for their family.
So when Nerie Quiñonez, 45, learned that their 10:45 a.m. connecting flight from Cebu to Tandag City in Surigao del Sur got canceled yesterday due to Tropical Storm Vinta, she could not help but feel dismayed.
What made matters worse was that they were reportedly not properly accommodated and taken care of by personnel from their airline Cebu Pacific.
Quiñonez, who was with a fellow domestic worker, Coralyn Fernandez, was referring to the hassle of rebooking their connecting flight to Tandag. One good thing about this, however, is that they were not made to pay any rebooking fee by Cebu Pacific.
“Pag-abot namo diri, nagpila mi sa transfer. Giingnan mi nga canceled kuno. Wala kuno silay mabuhat kay tungod kuno sa weather. Kami pa tawn naningkamot ug amo nga mangita ug laing paagi nga makauli gyud mi,” Quiñonez told Cebu Daily News.
(When we arrived here, we lined up at the transfer area. We were told our connecting flight was canceled. They said they could not do anything about it because it’s due to the weather. We had to strive on our own to look for other alternative route).
Quiñonez has been working as a domestic helper in Singapore for the past nine years. She only gets to go home twice a year that’s why she was looking forward to spending 25-day Christmas vacation with her family.
She was with 43-year-old Coralyn Fernandez, who is also from Tandag City. Like her, Fernandez is also a domestic helper in Singapore for 15 years already.
The two left Singapore at past 12 a.m. on Friday and arrived at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) at 4:30 a.m.
Fortunately, after all the struggles of going from one counter to another to check on alternative routes, Quiñonez and Fernandez were able to rebook their ticket for a flight from Cebu to Butuan at 4 p.m. yesterday.
They were not made to pay any rebooking fees by Cebu Pacific.
But they have to take a four-hour bus trip from Butuan City to Tandag City.
“Kapoy na lagi kaayo ang byahe. Pero okay ra. Basta ang importante, makauli gyud mi sa pasko (It’s a long and tiring trip. But it’s okay. What’s important is we are able to go home for Christmas),” Quiñonez said.
At least 30 flights from Cebu to destinations in Mindanao between 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. yesterday were canceled due to Tropical Storm Vinta.
According to Avigael Maningo, junior manager for corporate communications of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), an estimated 200 passengers were stranded at the MCIA yesterday due to the canceled flights.
She said the others were able to rebook their flights while those who are from Cebu just opted to go back home.
“But the airport is always open for those stranded passengers who have to stay while waiting for their flight changes and updates,” Maningo said.
A total of 30 flights scheduled between 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. yesterday were canceled due to the bad weather brought by Tropical Storm Vinta. These include 16 flights of Cebgo, a subsidiary of Cebu Pacific and another 14 flights of Air Philippines, a subsidiary of Philippine Airlines.
These flights were from Cebu to: Cagayan De Oro, Ozamiz, Butuan, Surigao, Siargao, Camiguin and Tandag.
Steve Dicdican, Mactan- Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager, also advised passengers, who have flights in the weekend to keep posted on updates.
“If you are affected by canceled flights, get information in advance so you don’t need to line up at the airport. You can also ask your airline to rebook your tickets,” Dicdican said in a press conference yesterday morning.
Help desks have been put up by the MCIAA in the arrival and departure areas of the airport.
He said that aside from the stranded passengers due to the typhoon, the MCIAA is also usually busy between December 22 and 23 due to the influx of passengers, who will be going home for Christmas.
This slows down though on the 24th and 25th, but by December 26, it is expected to become busy again.
With this, Dicdican said they are already providing more personnel in the MCIAA from security to operations to make sure that all ser vices are provided for.
“We have no problem on security. We’re always on top of the situation. We are on heightened alert from checkpoint, we are strict, we also have mandatory removal of shoes. The people manning the X-ray machines and in the walk-through metal detectors are more strict in checking passengers and baggage,” he added.
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