CEBU CITY, Philippines?Hundreds of passengers were stranded for hours inside their planes Saturday after the Philippine Airlines diverted its three Manila-bound flights from other provinces to the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
The flights from Zamboanga City, Tacloban City and Puerto Princesa were diverted to Mactan because of the poor visibility at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Two outgoing flights from Mactan for Manila and one incoming flight from Manila were also delayed for a few hours, according to Malou Tuscano of the public affairs department at the Mactan airport.
Based on the number of passengers of each diverted and delayed flights, a total of 974 passengers were affected, although the delayed flights were able to take off at past 1 p.m. Saturday.
Two of the three diverted flights had yet to take off for NAIA as of 2 p.m. Saturday, with their passengers kept inside their respective planes.
Tuscano said they could not say yet if more NAIA-bound PAL flights would be delayed, diverted or eventually cancelled until Saturday evening.
But so far, she said, the Mactan airport recorded only three diverted flights and another three outgoing or incoming flights that were delayed as of past 1 p.m.
PAL has eight outgoing flights for Manila and another eight incoming flights from Manila at the Mactan airport for the whole of Saturday.
The first diverted flight was PR 124 from Zamboanga City with 134 adult and one infant passengers, which arrived at Mactan at 9:07 a.m.
The second diverted flight, PR 192 from Tacloban City with 124 adults and one infant arrived at 11:06 a.m.
The third diverted flight, PR 196 from Puerto Princesa City with 214 adults and four infants arrived at 12:06 p.m.
Merc Bahande, Mactan terminal operation assistant, said that of the three flights, only PR 196 had so far been cleared for takeoff at 2 p.m.
He also said that no other airlines have been diverted to Cebu except for PAL.
The two remaining diverted flights were still at the MCIA at past 2 p.m., leaving a total of 478 passengers stranded inside their respective planes.
The delayed incoming flight was PR 853, which arrived at the Mactan airport at 11:40 a.m., instead of the original 10:55 a.m. schedule.
The first delayed outgoing fight was PR 848 with 355 adult and one infant passengers, which was able to take off at 1:10 p.m., instead of its original schedule at 9:35 a.m.
Another delayed outgoing flight was PR 854 with 139 adult and one infant passengers, which departed at 1:02 p.m. instead of its original schedule of 11:35 a.m.
Merc Bahande, a staffer at the Mactan airport?s operations department, said there were few PAL flights which were able to arrive and take off on time early Saturday morning.
PR 843 was able to arrive at MCIA at 5:49 a.m. from Manila and then left for Manila at 6:46 a.m. through PR 844.
PR 823 arrived safely from Manila at 7:42 a.m. and it immediately left for Davao City, he said.
PR 847 arrived at 8:42 a.m. Its flight back to Manila (PR 848) was delayed from 9:35 a.m. to 1:10 p.m.
With a report from Mars G. Alison, Inquirer Visayas