Philippines' Cebu Pacific suspends Caticlan flights due to runway

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Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific has suspended all flights to Caticlan airport following landing and takeoff restrictions imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

"We have therefore decided to divert all Caticlan flights to Kalibo instead and from there bus all our Boracay-bound passengers," says Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei says in a statement.

In the statement Cebu Pacific says it mounted as many as 15 round-trip flights daily to Caticlan prior to 25 June, using ATR72-500 aircraft. It adds, that a "technical re-definition also in effect shortens the runway, despite the actual length."

In late June the CAA said aircraft can only use runway 06 (from the sea) for landing and runway 24 toward the sea for taking off.

A Cebu Pacific spokeswoman in Manila says the carrier decided to cancel flights owing to wind conditions, which could prevent approaching aircraft from landingor those on the ground from taking off.

"If there is a tail wind for the takeoff the aircraft could be stranded," she says. "The same applies to landing aircraft. The restrictions make our flights [dependent]on lots of elements."

The restrictions were imposed after a 25 June incident in which aXian Aircraft MA60 turboprop operated by Zest Airways overshot the runway while trying to land on runway 24. Nobody was hurt in the accident.

In late June Jose Saplan, chief of the aircraft accidents investigations board at the CAA, told ATI there are plans to lengthen the runway by 100m (328ft) and flatten the hill obstructing runway 24.

He said landing and takeoff restrictions will remain until the expansion project is complete.

ATI was unable to reach Saplan today.

Caticlan airport sits across a narrow strait of water from the resort island of Boracay.