PAL to offer ‘distancing seats’

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
PAL to offer �distancing seats�
PAL aircraft will have social distancing sections where the middle or aisle seats will be left empty in defined rows per aircraft.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) will be offering “distancing seats” starting next month in a move to encourage more people to fly again despite the threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said all PAL and PAL Express flights would have the so-called distancing seats starting July 1.

She said PAL’s premium economy cabin class would have purely distancing seats, while the PAL and PALEx economy cabin class would have a mix of regular and distancing seats.

In the social distancing sections, an aisle or middle seat will be left empty in defined rows per aircraft.

Villaluna said a distancing seat is not an added fee or travel extra.

She said it is a new product included in specific fare classes such as economy flex and premium economy class.

“This new product is PAL’s way of providing peace of mind,” Villaluna said.

However, Villaluna assured the public that existing safety measures are adequate to protect passengers inflight even without the distancing seats.

She said these measures include intensive cabin cleaning and disinfection, cabin crew wearing protective equipment, a HEPA filtration system that purifies cabin air and simplified food service to minimize customer and crew contact, among others.

PAL said passengers could reserve a distancing seat if they book on premium economy fare or economy flex fare for a PAL or PALex flight scheduled on July 1 onwards.

Back in the air

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) yesterday allowed 25 airports in the country to operate commercial flights after their respective local government units (LGUs) gave the go-signal to local air carriers.

CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said that these airports are: Romblon Airport, Naga Airport, Manila International Airport, Clark International Airport, Cauayan Airport, Palanan Airport, Laguindingan Airport, Dipolog Airport, Pagadian Airport, Jolo Airport, Borongan Airport, Antique Airport, Masbate Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Cotabato Airport, Zamboanga Airport, Davao International Airport, General Santos Airport, Puerto Princesa International Airport, Tacloban Airport, Legaspi Airport, Ormoc Airport, Catbalogan Airport, San Jose Airport and Catarman Airport.

Additionaly, five airports are scheduled to open on July 1, depending on the health status of the area and word from their respective LGUs. These are Basco Airport, Virac Airport, Butuan Airport, San Vicente Airport and Busuanga Airport.

If the LGUs also permit, Surigao Airport will be allowed to open in August, while Siargao Airport will have to wait until Sept. 1 to resume operations.

Meanwhile, 17 airports are still not allowed to operate. These are Dumaguete Airport, Maasim Airport, Hilongos Airport, Guiuan Airport, Sanga-Sanga Airport, Ozamiz Airport, Bohol Panglao International Airport, Marinduque Airport, Bacolod-Silay Airport, Kalibo International Airport, Roxas Airport, Caticlan Airport, Calbayog Airport, Laoag International Airport, Tuguegarao Airport, Camiguin Airport and Iloilo Airport. Rudy Santos

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