PAL KEEPS UP SARS VIGILANCE

Manila, July 2, 2003  (MALAYA) Philippine Airlines, at the initiative of its chairman Lucio Tan, recently donated three new thermo-scanners for the use of the Bureau of the Quarantine (BOQ) at the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2. The equipment automatically reads the body temperature of passengers as they pass through a checkpoint, allowing BOQ personnel to determine on the spot if a subject is a running a fever - the first indication that a person might have a contagious illness like SARS. The procedure takes only a few seconds. "To a very great extend, (these scanners) will help us in our anti-SARS activities at the airport," BOQ director Dr. Edgardo Sabitsana wrote Tan in a message of thanks. The installation of the units shows that PAL is not letting its guard down in the fight against SARS despite the disease's waning in the last few weeks.

Taiwan airline flight delayed after RP aviation refuses flyover

07/02 5:23:26 PM

TAIPEI (AFP) - A charter flight operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways to the Malaysian state of Sabah was delayed from taking off for hours Wednesday after the Philippines refused to allow it over its airspace, airline officials said.

After it was later granted permission to use Vietnamese skies, the aircraft was ready to take off at 1:00 pm (0500 GMT), but it then discovered an engine had broken down from overheating, the officials said.

The 194 angry passengers were forced to wait at least seven hours at the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport before leaving for Sabah in another aircraft at about 4:00 pm.

The Philippine aviation authorities only notified TransAsia Wednesday morning that the overflight was not allowed, saying the airline owed them some US$8,000 dating back to 1990.

However TransAsia officials said a "communication problem" was responsible for the bungle, insisting no bill was left unpaid.

"It would be very ridiculous if this had been the reason, as we had flown over 100 flights on this route," a TransAsia official told AFP.

TransAsia had operated two charter flights per week to Sabah using airspace over the Philippines from 1999 to January 2003, she said.

Wednesday's flight was the first after the service was restored following a five-month suspension amid the SARS epidemic.

TransAsia Airways has scheduled 17 charter flights to Sabah from July 2 to September 4 and filed an application with Manila 12 days ahead of the first flight, the period required for clearance, officials said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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