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No new schedule for a sweeper flight yet; stranded asked to wait

The city government has asked for understanding from stranded residents who were not able to board the sweeper flights that would bring them home.

On May 4, the AirAsia flight from Clark, Pampanga landed at Francisco Bangoy International Airport carrying 120 passengers. Today, a Cebu Pacific flight with a 400-seater capacity is scheduled to arrive from Manila to bring the stranded passengers home.

It has been 51 days since Mayor Sara Duterte declared a lockdown in Davao City, which prohibited land, sea, and air travel, except for essential cargo.

As a result, many residents could not go home.

But she said there is no schedule yet for the next flight as the city government still needs to raise money to fund the special service.

“The national government said that if we will conduct sweeper flights, we are responsible for the expenses, and sweeper flights are very expensive,” she said. “We cannot afford two million a week.”

The smaller AirAsia flight cost about P1.4 million while the Cebu Pacific flight cost P2.4 million. Fortunately, a businessman from Davao City shouldered most of the cost but the city could not always count on the generosity of the private sector.

Passengers of the two flights, however, will not be allowed to go home immediately. While they won’t undergo swab-testing at the airport, they will be herded to an identified quarantine area. Their mandatory 14-day isolation period will start on the first day of their arrival.

Nonetheless, the mayor assured that they will schedule another sweeper flight once they have the money. “The city government will make a clear and proper announcement to alert the people outside Davao so they can finally go home,” she said. (Eureka Rafailes/ADDU intern)

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