New restrictions on international travel to address the potential spread of the new COVID-19 variant is expected to further slow down the pace of recovery of the airline industry, with local carriers having to depend mostly on the still restricted domestic air travel for survival.
“The ban on over 20 countries to protect against the potential spread of COVID has surely dampened consumer confidence,” Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) executive director and vice chairman Roberto Lim told The STAR.
There are 28 countries to date which are covered by passenger restrictions on flights to the Philippines.
These are Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, United Kingdom, US, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil and Austria.
Local airlines have been slowly reviving their domestic and international networks since travel restrictions eased last year. However, the latest threat of the new COVID-19 variant first detected in the UK could pose as another major threat to airlines’ path to recovery.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) late last year decided to cancel its flights to and from London until end-February in view of tightened restrictions by the UK government.
Both PAL and Cebu Pacific have been proceeding with their scheduled flights to and from the countries covered by the temporary restrictions for Philippine-bound travel, but they only accept Filipino citizens. (R. Mercurio, PS)