Philippine Airlines Plan Flight Resumptions This Week

Philippine Airlines announced last week that it planned to resume flights from today. As COVID-19 restrictions are eased in the Philippines, the airline disclosed its plan to restart a limited number of international and domestic routes. With travel restrictions still in place for many countries, where exactly will the airline be flying?

Philippine Airlines cautions that flight plans could change as COVID-19 conditions are monitored. Photo: Getty Images.

Philippine Airlines plans sweeper flights

Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced in a statement on its website last week that key international and domestic flights are planned to resume during June. The airline initially plans to operate 21 international and 24 domestic routes.

PAL will operate limited international services on select routes to the USA, Canada, Guam, Vietnam, mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Japan, the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia from June 1st. Key domestic routes are planned to start on June 8th. The carrier also announced on social media that it intends to operate sweeper flights to the UK, Singapore, and Australia to repatriate stranded passengers.

Passengers are advised to keep up to date with travel information on the airline’s website and social media platforms as plans continue to evolve. The airline warned that flights could be forced to be scaled back as COVID-19 conditions change.

Ongoing travel restrictions prevent the carrier from operating flights to and from certain destinations at this stage. These include Auckland, Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Busan, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Macau, Melbourne, Phnom Penh, Perth, Port Moresby, Quanzhou (Jinjiang), Sapporo, Seoul (Incheon) and Shanghai.

Travel restrictions are set to ease in Manila, following the government’s plan to downgrade the city’s status to general community quarantine (GCQ). For places under GCQ, air travel will be allowed for essential, not leisure, purposes. Travel in the Philippines has been restricted since mid-March after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a lockdown in Metro Manila, which was later expanded to other parts of the country. This included a week-long suspension of all international flights into the country.

Ninoy Aquino International Aiport
Manila’s chaotic airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, is unusually quiet as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause travel restrictions. Photo: Getty Images

PAL reassures passengers of their safety

Along with the announcement of its flight plans, PAL provided information on new safety procedures for travel. As appears to be the new norm, face masks must be worn at all times. Passengers were also advised to allow more time at the airport due to social distancing rules and thermal screening.

PAL was one of the first airlines to make Personal Protective Equipment a part of its cabin crew uniform. It has now gone one step further in its quest to protect passengers and crew from the coronavirus by announcing that all cabin crew will undergo rapid antibody testing before the flight.

PAL also reassured customers that the onboard environment was very safe, comparing it to a hospital operating room. The carrier explained that all aircraft are equipped with high-technology systems that replace the air in the cabin every two to three minutes. The use of HEPA filters also ensures that 99.9% of contaminants, including bacteria and viruses, are trapped and removed from the air.

Air Asia and Cebu Pacific planes
Cebu Pacific and Air Asia plan to restart domestic routes only during June. Photo: Steven Agre via Wikimedia Commons

Cebu Pacific and Air Asia set to resume flights

As PAL announced its plan to resume flying, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia also announced plans to restart operations in June.

Unlike PAL, both airlines have said that only domestic flights will be operated during June with the hope of starting international routes from July 1st. This news must bring some relief for both airlines, as travel restrictions continue to cause substantial losses.

Cebu Pacific and its subsidiary Cebgo will operate its first flights from June 2nd. Flights will depart to and from Manila from four locations: General Santos, Naga, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. Air Asia announced it will fly nine domestic routes from June 3rd.

As flights start to restart around the world, do you think it’s safe to resume essential travel? Let us know in the comments.