Cebu Pacific offers free coronavirus antigen tests for flights to and from GenSan
DAVAO CITY—Airline Cebu Pacific Air will start giving free antigen tests to passengers bound for General Santos City this month as it implements its program, called Test Before Boarding, to reduce risks of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.
“This reduces the risk of infection between testing and boarding (and will help us find) infected passengers in a more timely manner,” said the airline in a statement released to the media. “Only passengers with negative antigen test results will be allowed to board the (Cebu Pacific) aircraft.”
General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the airline’s free antigen testing, which would be piloted in his city, would encourage more people to travel again.
“We welcome this development because it opens up more people to the idea of traveling again,” said Rivera.
“We believe this will be a breakthrough initiative, as it will allow our residents to feel more secure and not be wary of arriving passengers from Manila,” he said.
Cebu Pacific’s antigen tests would be done conveniently at the airport before the passengers’ flight.
The airline ran the tests starting on Dec. 3 along with the local government of General Santos and the Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory (PADL). It will run for two weeks.
Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and customer experience, said all Cebu Pacific passengers from Manila to General Santos would be required to get tests “free of charge during the pilot run” from Dec. 3 to 14.
The testing program was to heed an executive order issued by Mayor Rivera. “Passengers no longer need to take any other test prior to their plight,” said Iyog.
“Safety has always been our topmost priority and in this current environment,” she said.
“Health is part of safety,” Iyog said. She said results of the program could “pave the way for a more confident restart of nonessential travel” and a standard for requirements “across all Philippine destinations.”
She said Cebu Pacific was grateful to the General Santos City local government for its help in the program.
Passengers would be required to fill out an electronic passenger information form (E-PIF) and to pre-register online 24 hours before their flight. They also have to secure travel authority to be allowed entry into the city and to check-in online before going to the airport.
They should be at the testing facility at Level 3 of the NAIA Terminal 3 at least five hours before departure to give ample time for testing procedures.
Once called for their turn, swab samples will be collected, with results to be released within 30 minutes. After completing the test, DOH-accredited PADL will provide passengers with a certificate showing the results of their antigen test. They can then proceed straight to gate or bag drop counters until an hour before the scheduled time of departure.
Only passengers with negative test results will be allowed to board the flight, while those with positive results will be referred to another testing facility for confirmatory RT-PCR testing.
Cebu Pacific said the antigen testing was only one of many safety protocols that the airline is implementing to give passengers peace of mind. The airline also conducts extensive disinfection of aircraft daily and cleans surfaces touched by passengers at the airport. Its planes are also equipped with Hepa air filters which could remove 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria from the air.
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