The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has lifted its moratorium on charter flights to the airports of Kalibo and Caticlan—gateways to Boracay—subject to certain guidelines being pursued under the government’s directive to preserve environmental gains on the resort island.
The CAB resolution, effective immediately, was signed after a special board meeting on July 15, 2019.
Under the resolution, carriers with scheduled flights will be allowed to maintain their schedules without reduction for the rest of the International Air Transport Association Summer Season. They are restricted, however, from mounting additional flights.
Meanwhile, charter flights will again be allowed at Kalibo and Caticlan airports, subject to conditions, including the filing of charter applications at least 30 days before the intended date of operation, and the scheduling of operations on less congested days of the week as determined by the CAB.
In addition, all air operators to Kalibo and Caticlan airports will not be allowed to use aircraft with more than a 200-seat capacity.
The CAB Board stated that it will still monitor the extent of commercial air operations into Kalibo and Caticlan relative to the carrying capacity of the resort island for the purpose of reviewing and adjusting its guidelines.
In September 2018, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the University of the Philippine-Los Banos determined that Boracay had a tourist-carrying capacity of 19,215 at any given time, or 6,405 arrivals a day based on an average three-day stay.
On June 10, 2019, CAB ordered scheduled carriers to review their flight numbers for a possible scale-back, and held charter applications in abeyance after seeing a daily average of more than 7,000 arrivals in April and May.
But in view of June arrivals data and trends in the past years, CAB has determined that there is no reason to maintain the current flight restrictions.
Citing statistics from the Malay Tourism Office, the Board saw a total of 189,444 tourists entering Boracay in June, down from 222,330 in April and 221,138 in May. This translates to an average of 6,314 daily arrivals.
The annual trend in 2015-2017 suggests that this number may still go down, bottoming out in September, consistently the month with least visitor numbers (an average of 44% from April peaks). This year, that can mean only around 4,200 tourists per day, irrespective of the mode of transportation taken.
The tourist arrivals then recover until December, but only top off at 76% of the April average.