PAL seeks higher passenger cap
Philippine Airlines (PAL) has started to cancel international flights after plans to lift the government’s daily cap of 4,000 passengers have yet to materialize.
Thus far, PAL announced the cancellation of Manila-Singapore flight PR507/508 on Dec. 21. On Dec. 19, it rescheduled a Manila-Damman flight to the following day to meet the daily cap at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“We seek the public’s understanding over this unfortunate situation. We are a vital air bridge to bring families together, and we try to do all we can to fly our countrymen home, hence the flights we had arranged to serve their urgent travel needs,” Dexter Lee, senior vice president and chief strategy and planning officer of PAL, said in a statement.
“However, we have to abide by the latest limits and we regret that this will prevent us from serving many travelers,” he added.
Carriers, including PAL, were banking on the doubling of the daily cap to 10,000 passengers to allow them to serve more arrivals during the busy Christmas holidays. The plan was put on hold after the Omicron variant was detected overseas.
In its statement, PAL continued to urge the government to raise the limit on international arrivals.
PAL’s share amounted to a fourth of the daily cap—or 1,200 passengers per day—to cover flights from at least 22 cities in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Australia.
“We maintain our appeal to allow more arrivals to address the crying need to bring our compatriots home at this special time of the year,” Lee said. “We will do all we can to work with the government authorities, including assistance with quarantine hotel bookings, to achieve this.”
“Indeed, we are very grateful for the support that our government has extended in recent weeks, and we have made full use of alternate gateways in Subic, Davao, Cebu and Bohol to cater to the peak season arrivals,” Lee added.
With the present limit on arrivals, PAL said this might prevent thousands of Filipinos from returning home.
The flag carrier earlier appealed for a higher cap to accommodate the thousands of returning Filipinos. It also provided assurances that all returning overseas Filipinos would have pre-arranged hotel bookings over and above the hotel blockings set for arriving OFWs by the Overseas Welfare Workers’ Administration.
“The flag carrier is left with no choice but to cancel certain flights to comply with the stricter limits on certain days. An unplanned shortage in quarantine hotel rooms allotted for OFWs has limited the ability of Owwa to absorb arrivals from OFW-heavy countries,” PAL said.
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