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Photo courtesy of Philippine Airlines.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) plans to start limited flights on select routes as the government eases community quarantine restrictions nationwide starting June 1.

PAL, in a statement, said it “welcomes the opportunity to resume regular commercial operations following the Philippine government decision to upgrade certain areas of the country, including the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status starting June 1.”

NCR, Regions II, III, VIA-A, and the provinces of Pangasinan, Albay, and Davao will be under GCQ while the remaining areas in the country will transition to modified GCQ (MGCQ) by June 1.

GCQ is a less restricted form of community quarantine than modified enhanced community quarantine. MGCQ, meanwhile, is a more relaxed version of GCQ and is the transition phase prior to the “new normal.”

PAL said it is closely coordinating with local and national government authorities on the necessary implementing rules and arrangements to finalize our routes and flight schedules.

As soon as these are finalized, PAL said it will announce flights and routes it will operate.

PAL president and chief operating officer Gilbert Santa Maria last May 21 in an interview said as directed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), airlines are already planning flights between areas under GCQ.

He said PAL will operate 5% to 10% of its normal domestic flight schedule in June and July and resume 20% to 30% of its international flight operations. Flights “will slowly ramp up as demand picks up”, he added.

READ:  PAL seen losing revenues of $1B over quarantine period

In an earlier advisory, the airline said it is working on plans to operate a few domestic routes from its Davao hub, possibly to Iloilo, Siargao and General Santos, to help support the economic recovery of Mindanao with the easing of quarantine restrictions there.

For international flights, Santa Maria said PAL will resume its transpacific routes to Vancouver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as “demand is still pretty high” with American citizens going back to these areas. PAL also plans to resume its regional routes such as in Singapore and Japan where there are stranded Filipinos and for those who need to fly for business reasons.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade on May 28 said DOTr will expand the operation of international flights will be expanded to Clark, Cebu, and Davao once the country transitions to less restricted community quarantines starting June 1.

Tugade noted that international flights are currently concentrated in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to travel restrictions.

Tugade said in preparation for allowing more international flights, DOTr is working with the Department of Health and Philippine Red Cross in the accreditation of testing laboratories that they are putting in these gateways. But even while waiting for the accreditation of these facilities, Tugade said international flights can still proceed once GCQ is implemented as there are already accredited hospitals for testing in Clark and Cebu.

He said the plan is to allow international flights in more gateways—Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Bohol—every two weeks.

For domestic flights, Tugade said they will implement a “hub and spoke” operation to spread “aviation potentials” and help in “domestic mobility” and domestic tourism.

According to the revised omnibus guidelines in the implementation of community quarantine in the Philippines, road, rail, maritime, and aviation sectors for public transportation should operate at a reduced operational and vehicle capacity in accordance with guidelines by DOTr and in compliance with social distancing requirements in areas under GCQ.

In areas under MGCQ, public transportation should operate at a capacity in accordance with guidelines by DOTr and again in compliance with social distancing requirements.

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