Local airlines hard hit by COVID-19 outbreak
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The local aviation industry is taking a massive hit due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) scare, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

Although it has yet to come up with an actual amount of industry losses to date, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the COVID-19 outbreak has already taken a significant toll on local airlines.

“Overall they are taking a hit, especially those who are operating in territories of China, Hong Kong and Macau,” Arcilla said.

“Our local airlines are receiving a massive hit because for example Cebu Pacific, 30 percent of their flights are affected.  AirAsia Philippines 51 percent (of their flights are affected) so the hit is really significant, including PAL (Philippine Airlines),” he said.

Outside these territories where the Philippines has imposed a travel ban, Arcilla said there is also an overall dampening of desire to travel among people.

“Airlines all over the world are experiencing this. No shows are increasing and booking has been declining. Overall, that is the trend,” he said.

Arcilla said the local airlines have met with the agencies in the aviation sector a couple of weeks ago to present their wish list to the government in a bid to soften the blow on their bottomline.

“They want to expand their domestic services now so that they can compensate the decline in traffic. We are studying this now,” he said.

“All their requests are being studied, but most of them cannot be addressed by the DOTr (Department of Transportation) family, such as the reduction and removal of travel tax,” Arcilla said, noting that such would require legislation. 

The International Air Transport Association reported last week that the decline in passenger demand could result in a $27.8 billion revenue loss in 2020 for airlines in Asia Pacific, the bulk of which would be borne by carriers registered in China.

In the Philippines, Cebu Pacific said customers have been asking for refunds as they cancel or postpone trips to China.

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