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Only 28 NAIA flights Friday amid Covid-19 crisis

GROUNDED PAL PLANES. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1 and 2 in Pasay City was turned into parking lots for grounded Philippine Airlines (PAL) planes due to suspended operations of its international flights starting March 26 until April 14, 2020. The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak has pushed commercial planes to stop operations due to the implementation of enhanced community quarantine. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA — Only 28 flights are scheduled to arrive and depart at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday, data from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) showed.

These flights — 15 arrivals and 13 departures — are all by foreign carriers, except three Philippine Airlines (PAL) last arriving flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

All local carriers earlier announced a temporary halt in their operations, with PAL beginning the temporary suspension of its international flights on Thursday until April 14.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the low travel demand due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) concerns, and travel restrictions imposed by various governments globally, prompted them to temporary halt international operations.

PAL, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia Philippines temporarily stopped domestic operations in support of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Various local government units also implemented travel restrictions, leading the airlines to stop all their domestic operations.

There has been a significant decrease in the number of flights via Manila.

MIAA’s records showed there were 33 scheduled arriving and departing flights on Thursday, and 30 on Wednesday.

These figures are lower than the average 760 daily flights at NAIA in 2019, and an average of 774 flights in January 2020.

The number of passengers at NAIA dropped to 30 percent in February compared to the same period last year. There was a decline of about 476,000 passengers in February, MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said.

Flight frequencies in February, arriving and departing combined, also decreased by 25 percent compared to February 2019, he added.

Earlier this month, Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the aviation industry is facing “very severe challenges”, and that the impact of Covid-19 in the sector is becoming more intense.

10 foreign carriers still operating at NAIA

More airlines have announced a halt in their operation via Manila: Oman Air starting Thursday, Jeju Air starting Friday, Singapore Airlines and Royal Brunei beginning March 29.

Based on MIAA’s record, only 10 airlines are scheduled to continue operating to/from NAIA. These are Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, China Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Eva Air, Gulf Air, and Qatar Airways.

With only 10 carriers that would retain their Manila operations, MIAA has decided to use just one terminal — NAIA Terminal 1 from March 28 until the duration of the ECQ.

In a statement on Thursday, MIAA said using just one terminal aims to minimize cost on utilities, and to support the implementation of ECQ, as lesser personnel would have to report for work. (PNA)

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