Bohol Governor Arthur Yap encouraged the three major domestic airline companies serving the Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA) to resume their regular flights with cheaper fares to revive the tourism in the province.

Yap addressed his plea to Philippine Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Santa Maria, Air Asia Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Isla, and Cebu Pacific Air President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Gokongwei.

“The transporting public has been clamoring for the reopening of regular domestic flights at the BPIA,” Yap said.

He added he was hoping that the regular domestic flights be resumed after several consultations he has had with the management of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), which operates Panglao airport.

Yap specifically asked the three airline companies for “a calibrated reopening of commercial domestic flights” at the BPIA.

The airport will be first reopened to domestic flights catering to locally stranded individuals (LSIs), overseas Filipino worker (OFWs), and authorized persons outside residence (APORs).

At present, only sweeper and chartered flights can fly in and out of Bohol. But Yap pointed out that these could not accommodate the number of passengers, who want to come to Bohol, not to mention the more expensive fare they offer.

 “This is in furtherance of our earnest desire to slowly reinstate and bring forward the economy of Bohol,” Yap told the airline executives.

According to Ven Arigo of the Provincial Information and Media Relations (PRIMER), minimum health protocols shall be strictly implemented such as, but not limited to, physical distancing, wearing of face masks and shields, as well as proper disinfection or sanitation.

Arigo added that all passengers shall be required to secure all necessary clearances and documentary requisites before they will be allowed to board the plane bound for Bohol. Prior coordination with the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) should have also been undertaken before any passenger is allowed entry to the province.

“This is to ensure that all pertinent national IATF and BIATF policies, rules, regulations and issuances are faithfully observed and complied,” Arigo said.

Yap said it was equally necessary for prior coordination between the LSIs, OFWs and APORs and their receiving local government units (LGUs). 

The governor is hoping for positive responses from the three airlines.

He had earlier said Bohol’s economy and tourism ought to reopen even gradually yet decisively. The decision to resume regular domestic flights came on the heels of the successful first hybrid Philippine Travel Exchange PhiTEX (2020) hosted by the province in Panglao island recently.

As they were leaving Bohol last weekend, the major trade travel event in pandemic time already generated close to P17 million in bookings, according to a top national tourism official. (Minerva Newman)