Philippines aviation outlook still bleak — CAB
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The outlook for the country’s aviation industry remains bleak as restrictions both locally and abroad remain, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

“The Philippines is one of the severely affected countries by the decline in aviation and our year-on year monthly figures are really very low. For example, in the international sector, we only have in Manila not even three percent of our flights before,” CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said.

“The outlook is still bleak and overall, we know the reason for this is the pandemic,” he said.

Arcilla said the Philippines as well as other countries would have to face many challenges before their respective aviation industries could recover from the pandemic.

He said among the major challenges are the restrictions imposed by other countries and the economic downturn brought about by the pandemic.

“Almost all the countries in the world have imposed their respective restrictions. We still don’t have what we call a universal or multilateral health protocol implemented globally. It still varies since the hazard level of each country is different,” Arcilla said.

“The decline in the overall economic conditions of not only the Filipinos, but a lot of countries is also a challenge. We all know that the cycle of the economy is hand in hand with the growth in air travel. Once there is an economic downturn, growth in aviation also drops,” he said.

Arcilla said tedious procedures in airports and airlines as part of safety protocols are also somehow disincentivizing people from traveling.

“According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the period of recovery becomes longer and longer. Before it was one year, then it became two years, then three years, and now their expected period of recovery is four years,” Arcilla said.

At present, 32 airports in the country are open for commercial operations and 17 are still closed due to certain requirements of their respective local government units.

From Aug. 19 to 31, Arcilla said there are a total of 206 scheduled flights in and out of NAIA which shall be operated by various airlines.

Of these, 87 will be repatriation flights and 119 will be commercial flights.

A total of 102 flights will be flown by international carriers and 104 by domestic carriers. Flag carrier Philippine Airlines will operate most flights, followed by Cebu Pacific and other airlines.

Arcilla said a total of 80,554 passengers would arrive and depart for the said period at the NAIA, of which 24,559 are from repatriation flights and 41,600 from commercial flights.

“At least this period of Aug. 19 to 31, there will be a slight opening although there are still a lot of challenges. The whole world is really struggling,” he said.

“The government is working hard to bring back air travel since this is very important in the economic well-being of a country. This is a driver and main engine of economic growth and there is no country that will survive  or succeed if its air connectivity will not be vibrant in support of tourism and trade,” the CAB official said.

Aside from assisting aviation stakeholders, the government is also seeking to provide more support to customers by studying possible enhancements to the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR).

“We are again studying the Air Passenger Bill of Rights because there are a lot of things there that perhaps need revision to be relevant to current developments,” Arcilla said.

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