Philippine Airlines in cooperation with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Philippine Consulate in Melbourne successfully coordinated a special flight from Melbourne to Manila this morning.
The 10:30am scheduled PR210 flight departed at 12:52pm. PAL utilised its Boeing 777-3F6(ER). All passengers were required to wear face shields for the duration of the flight.
130 people received the support for a fully funded ticket by the Philippine government, 30 people were provided a free rebooking with their cancelled tickets, and the rest of the around 290 passengers paid for their own seats.
Acting ConGen Mandap stated that most of the passengers were international students who lost their jobs and can no longer support themselves. He also stated that there were many tourists who exhausted their savings due to their unexpected extended stay.
“They wanted to be home with their families,” said Acting ConGen Mandap.
As Stage 4 restrictions began in Melbourne on 2 August, many more Filipinos took the opportunity and submitted their interest to apply for a funded flight by the Philippine government.
The Philippine Consulate responded to calls of several Filipinos that were unable to take the limited number of flights operated by PAL during the coronavirus pandemic.
Melbourne Airport has continued to service freight planes throughout the pandemic, as Victoria closed its international borders. Grant of Melbourne Airport commented that there were only 560 passengers departing Melbourne Airport, stating “it’s a busy day today.”
“We converted this cargo flight into a passenger flight on the return journey,” he states. Acting ConGen Anthony Mandap worked in recent weeks to negotiate this repatriation flight for the Filipinos stranded in Melbourne.
On June 30, the Federal Government responded with a directive to ban all overseas passenger flights from arriving into Melbourne from 2 July.
Premier Daniel Andrews has not indicated a plan on re-opening overseas passenger flights. Stranded Australians overseas who are still able to fly to Australia need to fly to other airports, such as Sydney, which is still accepting a limited number of flights per day.
Philippine Airlines is awaiting further direction from the Philippine and Australian governments to proceed with offering further flights from Sydney to Manila.