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Business

Domestic air travel surges in Q1

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
Domestic air travel surges in Q1
Scenes around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City on Saturday afternoon (August 8, 2021). Non-essential travel is suspended in and out of Metro Manila, after the government placed NCR under enhanced community quarantine for two weeks, from August 6 to 20, 2021 amid the threat of Delta coronavirus variant.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Air travel within the country showed signs of strong recovery in the first quarter amid challenges due to the surge in COVID cases early in the year.

Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that domestic passenger traffic from January to March stood at 3.26 million, a 230 percent jump from the 988,212 recorded in the same period in 2021.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific and unit CebGo carried the most number of domestic passengers during the quarter with 1.87 million.

They were followed by flag carrier Philippine Airlines and PAL Express with 895,539, and AirAsia Philippines with 474,064.

AirSwift Transport Inc. carried 18,805 passengers during the three-month period.

Domestic passenger traffic for the first quarter is already more than half of 2021’s full year domestic passenger volume, which stood at 5.53 million, an indication that air travel is on its way to recovery this year.

The robust first quarter domestic passenger traffic figures were achieved despite headwinds faced by local carriers in January and February as COVID cases surged again due to Omicron, which led the government to revert the country to Alert Level 3 and reimpose stricter travel regulations.

By March, however, more people were encouraged to travel as COVID cases declined, alert levels de-escalated, and local government units simplified travel requirements.

Cebu Pacific earlier said it has restored 100 percent of its domestic pre-pandemic capacity right in time for the summer season.

Its domestic network currently has over 50 routes spanning Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, for its part, expects to return to pre-pandemic levels in its domestic network within the second or third quarter.

The airline said it is in the midst of expanding flight services to, from, and within Mindanao, with plans to inaugurate next month the first-ever air links within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao through regular jet flights between Cotabato City and Tawi-Tawi.

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