CAB to airlines: Cancel domestic flights
In an advisory dated May 30, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla disclosed that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has yet to approve the routes for domestic services proposed by airlines for the resumption of domestic operations this week.
STAR/File
CAB to airlines: Cancel domestic flights
Rudy Santos, Gilbert Bayoran (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has advised airline companies to cancel the resumption of their flights starting today.

In an advisory dated May 30, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla disclosed that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has yet to approve the routes for domestic services proposed by airlines for the resumption of domestic operations this week.

The CAB also ordered airline companies to stop selling tickets for the period.

Arcilla did not respond when sought for clarification on the advisory.

CAB chief legal officer Wyrlou Samodio also declined to comment, but said “we still have to wait (for) the decision of the IATF.”

Some local carriers have been working closely with the government agencies concerned before announcing their scheduled flights.

CAB’s decision came after Western Visayas officials asked the IATF to keep air and sea travel in the region closed beyond May 31, as a deterrent against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

They are asking that only overseas Filipino workers, local stranded individuals and cargo be allowed into the province.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said they were assured by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año that the latter would relay their concerns to the IATF.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson also said they want to limit inter-island travel between Panay and Negros to returning stranded residents, and will keep the border between Negros Occidental and Oriental closed.

“We intend to keep the borders closed, I think that is what Oriental also wants,” Lacson said.

Negros Occidental provincial administrator Rayfrando Diaz yesterday said Phiilippine Airlines (PAL) has canceled its Manila-Bacolod-Manila commercial flights from today until June 7.

“We look forward to an immediate resolution on the issues raised by (local government units), and we shall await the IATF’s approval of the PAL Group’s plans to restart domestic services,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said.

“We hope that consensus will be reached among all stakeholders so that we can soon serve the flight needs of the public,” Villaluna added.

In its latest advisory, PAL now intends to resume domestic operations by June 8. Its limited international services, however, are still scheduled to resume today.

Starting today, Bacolod City and Negros Occidental are now under modified general community quarantine.

On the other hand, Lacson said he was surprised by Transportation Secretary Athur Tugade’s suggestion that the Bacolod Silay Airport be opened to international flights.

“We’ve always been wanting to be an international airport, but we have been told we were not ready for international flights because our runway is not long enough,” Lacson said.

“It has to be clarified,” he added.

Budget carriers Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines released over the weekend their respective schedules for the resumption of their domestic passenger services this week, but both indicated no intentions to fly abroad for the rest of the month.

Prior to CAB’s advisory, Cebu Pacific said it would start?resuming services tomorrow with a limited number of domestic flights from Manila to General Santos and vice versa, while AirAsia was to resume services in the country on Wednesday, initially for key domestic routes and will gradually increase to include international destinations by July 1.

“Leisure travel is not allowed, as per government guidelines. Guests must check?guidelines from the?(IATF), and?with?the local governments of their origin and destination for the required documents,” Cebu Pacific said.

“We will gradually build-up our domestic flight network, depending on market demand, quarantine restrictions and government regulations,” it added.

The airline company said it would?continue to work with?the IATF as well as other national and local government authorities?on the rules and requirements?to resume commercial passenger flights between areas under general community quarantine.

The Gokongwei-owned carrier said all international flights would remain suspended until June 30.

“During the hibernation of our fleet, we took the time to step up our handling procedures to ensure that our guests have a swift and safe journey with us. Needless to say, we are well prepared to welcome everyone onboard. As we resume our services around our network, AirAsia is determined to help rebuild our economy and country,” AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Ricky Isla said.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said international operations would continue subject to the 400-passengers-a-day cap imposed by the IATF for inbound flights.

To get domestic operations off the ground, the MIAA said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 would remain servicing international commercial flights while Terminal 2 would continue servicing all repatriation and sweeper flights and commercial domestic flights of PAL.

Terminal 3 will be used by Cebu Pacific and Air Asia, while Terminal 4 will remain closed.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal deemed it best to adopt these options so that it can maximize the use of the terminals while striking a balance between ensuring efficient flight operations and being cost-effective. Richmond Mercurio, Delon Porcalla

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