Diego Garcia’s OFW repatriation flights now arrive via Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Filipino contract workers at Diego Garcia’s island military outpost in the Indian Ocean can now return home via Philippine Airlines (PAL) repatriation flights to Subic.

Diego Garcia’s first PAL flight to Subic arrived here on Monday, December 13, after the Philippine national airline decided to expand its “Bayanihan” flights to bring more Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW) back in time for the holidays, said Subic Bay. Chairman and Director of the Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Wilma T. Eisma.

OFW flights through Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) began last July as part of the government’s repatriation program to help Filipinos stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With this, Subic is now connected to 10 major cities and destinations in the Indo-Pacific region,” Eisma said Monday. “We are now the gateway for OFWs from the Middle East, as well as Asian ports.

She said areas with PAL connections to Subic now include Riyadh and Dammam in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Doha in Qatar, Macau, Palau, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and now Diego Garcia.

The latest PAL flight brought a total of 303 passengers to Subic, most of whom are contract workers for Diego Garcia, said Ronnie Yambao, SBMA’s senior deputy operations administrator.

One of them was Oscar Ebalan, from Masinloc, Zambales, who arrived with his son Aldean, also a contract worker employed by KBR Diego Garcia LLC, a military contractor who provides operations, maintenance and logistics on the island.

Ebalan said the OFW flight from Diego Garcia to Subic lasted more than seven hours non-stop, a more difficult long-haul compared to regular flights that normally make a brief stopover in Singapore.

“But we arrived safe and sound, and the arrival procedures at Subic went smoothly,” he said, adding that they expected to be home after the mandatory quarantine and the RT-test. PCR required five days after arriving here.

Eisma said the SBMA expects more OFW flights through Subic before the end of the year, but stressed that none of them would come from countries that the Philippine government has put on its red list due to the emergence of the Omicron virus variant.

“We can be assured that no passengers will be brought here from a Red List country as the government has banned inbound international travel by all people from Red List areas regardless of their status. vaccine, ”Eisma said.

SBMA Airport Director Zharrex Santos said that prior to the flight from Diego Garcia, Subic Airport also received recent arrivals from Dubai – a total of 280 passengers on December 10 and 269 passengers on December 12.

Santos said that since July, Subic Airport has received a total of 45 OFW flights and handled a total of 12,262 passengers under the government’s OFW repatriation program.

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