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PAL eyes more flights from Middle East, US for holidays

REUTERS

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) said it is ready to add more flights from the Middle East, the United States, Australia and various Asian countries as more overseas Filipinos are expected to fly home next month.

But alternative gateways in the country need to be opened so that passengers can fly onward to their final destinations at no extra cost.

“With the help of enlightened government intervention to open up alternative airports and liberalize health and quarantine protocols, we will do our best to adjust our network so that we can fly more people home and support the revival of our local economy,” PAL said in an e-mailed statement over the weekend.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) said in a statement on Saturday that the airline industry is experiencing “high demand” for flights based on forward bookings and passenger inquiries.

PAL said it recently brought in more than 10,000 overseas Filipinos by using alternate gateways such as Cebu, Bohol, Subic and Davao to prevent the cancelation of their flights.

“These include our recent rerouting of flights from Bangkok to Panglao; Dubai to Subic, Davao or Cebu; Los Angeles and San Francisco to Cebu; Kuala Lumpur to Laoag; Doha to Subic; and other routes,” the flag carrier noted.

“In the meantime, we are working with government authorities to open up alternative gateway airports in the Philippines,” it added.

ACAP said the government should simplify further the requirements for travelers “to meet the resurging travel demand during the holidays.”

The association wants the local government units to accept vaccine cards, with or without QR (Quick Response) codes.

“ACAP is also appealing to the government to increase the prevailing cap of four thousand to ten thousand passengers daily on international arrivals for inbound passengers carried by all international airlines into the country.”

At the same time, the airlines are calling for “a reduction of quarantine days for fully-vaccinated passengers from ‘yellow list’ (moderate-risk) countries, from the current five days to just two days.”

In a statement last week, the Tourism department said the task force had approved in principle the entry of fully vaccinated tourists from “green list” (low-risk) countries.

Fully vaccinated foreigners from these countries only need a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours before departure.

No facility-based quarantine and additional testing will be required, but tourists should self-monitor for any symptoms until the 14th day after their arrival in the country. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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