Unions, manning firms ask gov’t for additional flights to facilitate crew change

Seafarers’ unions and manning companies have called on President Duterte to allow additional flights in the country’s three international gateways to enable crew changes involving between 80,000 and 100,000 seafarers.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) President Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza disclosed that his group along with other unions and manning agencies wrote the Chief Executive to allow an international carrier to provide additional flights to the country’s airports.

TUCP is joined by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Associated Philippine Seafarers Union (APSU), the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) in appealing to the President.

TUCP Partylist Rep. Mendoza, who chairs the House committee on overseas workers affairs, said: “The government has to do a better job in terms of crew change implementation by clearing these bottlenecks now if it is to save the multibillion dollar seafaring industry.”

“We understand Qatar Airways has already offered additional daily flights to Cebu, Clark, and Manila in order to clear the bottlenecks caused by the caps on arrival in our airports.

“This has to be immediately addressed by the government otherwise we are at risk of losing the international seafaring market,” the lawmaker emphatically said.

He added: “TUCP supports the proposal of the ITF and Qatar Airways to provide three additional flights a day to rush the repatriation of an expected 150k seafarers back home within the next six months, and to facilitate crew change.

“We should take up this offer of Qatar Airways for these flights that are to be paid by the shipowners,” he pointed out.

An estimated 250,000 seafarers have been onboard for as long as one year with extended contracts, putting their health and their ships at serious risk.

Moreover, seafarers who have been waiting for opportunity to board so that they can provide income to their families cannot leave because of all the bottlenecks and logjams in airports and provinces.

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