Airlines seek greater mobility for vaccinated – Concepcion

The Philippine Star
Airlines seek greater mobility for vaccinated â Concepcion
In a statement, Concepcion said the carriers have sought his help to air their concerns on the impact of the pandemic on their business.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Operating airlines have asked the help of presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to push for greater mobility among the vaccinated in the transport sector to allow the industry to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Concepcion said the carriers have sought his help to air their concerns on the impact of the pandemic on their business.

During a meeting with Department of Health adviser Dr. Edsel Salvaña, attended by Concepcion, officials from carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and AirAsia discussed how strict policies imposed by both the national and local government have discouraged travelers from flying.

“For these airline companies to survive, there has to be sustainable number of passengers, especially for the tourism industry,” Concepcion said.

The airlines have asked to ease restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals to encourage travel.

Among those being pushed by airlines is the removal of multiple requirements for traveling, especially for domestic destinations requiring a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test and long quarantine period for passengers of international flights.

PAL president and chief operating officer Gilbert Sta Maria and Dexter Lee who serves as senior vice president and chief strategy and planning officer at PAL said requirements such as testing and the 10-day quarantine period, particularly for international flights, discourage people from traveling.

To reduce the risk and cost of international flights for passengers, PAL proposed a new protocol which would involve getting the passenger tested 72 hours before departure, undergoing quarantine upon arrival and taking the RT-PCR test on the third day.

If the result is negative, the passenger would be allowed to leave the quarantine facility on the fifth day and continue quarantine at home.

The proposal is seen to allow P25,000 worth of savings for the passenger.

PAL also proposed that North America, which is the biggest market for local airlines, be placed on the green list of countries.

It said it has earned $1 billion from the North American market before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Alex Reyes, vice president for cargo at Cebu Pacific, called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to release guidelines that would allow fully vaccinated Filipinos to travel to domestic destinations.

“They only must present a vaccination card or DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) vaccination certificate as sole requirement,” he said, adding local government units may require the RT-PCR test for unvaccinated travelers.

For his part, AirAsia chief executive officer Ricky Isla proposed the use of antigen testing, if testing would still be a requirement, citing its convenience and affordability.

The airlines’ proposal is similar to the “bakuna bubble” put forward by Concepcion to safely reopen the economy.

Under the bakuna bubble, COVID-19 guidelines would be relaxed for fully vaccinated individuals to encourage economic activity.

The airline industry has given assurances they are well-equipped and prepared to implement the necessary measures.

Meanwhile, Philippine Hotel Owners Association executive director Bong Bengzon called on the government to revisit the number of passengers allowed, citing they are ready to handle the influx of tourists once the tourism industry is opened.

The bus industry backed the call to allow intra/inter-provincial travel for vaccinated individuals as such would help the sector bounce back from the effect of the lockdowns.

Salvaña said he supports reopening of businesses, but stressed the need for this to be done safely.

“I understand the plight of the airline industry. I promise to put all of their concerns and proposals on the table in our next meeting,” he said.

Other officials present at the meeting were LT Group president Michael Tan, Cebu Pacific vice president for corporate affairs JR Mantaring, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines executive director Bobby Lim, MacroAsia Corp. president and chief operating officer Joseph Chua, Victory Liner senior vice president Marivic Del Pilar, Alex Yague of Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas Inc., Yvonne Flores of Cebu Pacific, Annabelle Arceo of LT Group, Rachel Jem Apoldo of AirAsia, Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Advisory Council Philippines senior adviser Josephine Romero and Go Negosyo executive director Mina Akram.



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with