PH airlines ordered to quickly inform passengers of cancelled flights

NAIA Terminal 3
NAIA Terminal 3

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) have asked local airlines to quickly inform passengers of cancelled or suspended flights with reimposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

MIAA said air carriers should provide their passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) proper rebooking instructions for suspended domestic flights as the National Capital Region (NCR) returned to MECQ on August 4.

The Civil Aeronautics Board, in a separate advisory, reminded air carriers to adhere strictly to provisions of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Airlines should also immediately notify passengers about flights cancelled or postponed via all available means of communication to avoid inconveniencing the riding public.

NCR, where NAIA is located, as well as the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan, reverted to MECQ from general community quarantine (GCQ) from August 4 to 18 in response to calls by medical associations for a two-week return to ECQ so government can “recalibrate strategies against COVID-19.” The medical groups said the Philippines’ healthcare system is overwhelmed and healthcare workers are burned out from handling the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.

Under MECQ, domestic flights are suspended, and only limited international flights allowed based on Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines. Controlled inbound travel is allowed only for overseas Filipino workers and returning Filipinos while inter-island travel is prohibited.

Cargo flights will continue in compliance with the July 16 IATF omnibus guidelines mandating unhampered movement of cargo.

Airlines respond to MECQ

Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, and Cebgo announced all their domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are cancelled during the MECQ period.

Cebu Pacific said flights between Manila and Taipei, along with all other international flights, are also cancelled during this time.

Their Clark-Cebu-Clark (every Tuesday) and Cebu-Davao-Cebu (every Tuesday) flights will remain operational.

Cebu Pacific said it intends to operate limited international routes: Manila-Dubai-Manila, Manila-Seoul (Incheon), Tokyo (Narita)-Manila, Osaka-Manila, and Manila-Singapore-Manila.

It added all-cargo flights will continue to ensure transport of essential goods across the country.

Guests on cancelled flights can choose from among these options: unlimited rebooking, two-year travel fund, or a full refund.

PAL, in a separate advisory, said domestic flights between Clark, Cebu, Davao and cities other than Manila are not affected by the suspension and will remain operational.

International flights to and from Manila will also continue to operate, subject to further guidelines from authorities in line with quarantine capacity and related arrangements.

Domestic passengers of PAL’s canceled flights have the option to rebook, refund or convert their ticket into a travel voucher.

AirAsia Philippines said its domestic flights to and from Manila for August will resume on August 19.

Meanwhile, the MIAA will deploy 50% of its workforce to do back office work in compliance with guidelines for areas under MECQ, said MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal in a statement.

Frontline employees, however, are not included in this directive. These include those assigned to flight operations, terminal monitoring, facilities management and maintenance, security, safety and emergency services.

To ensure continuous work, MIAA will provide shuttle buses for the use of airport workers, plying routes covering Manila, Quezon City and Cavite. The workers are also to be provided free meals as well as hazard pay equivalent to P500 per day as may be directed by the competent authority.

Airlines resumed some domestic flights last June with the easing of NCR and other areas in the country to GCQ, which allows domestic flights.