PHL carriers continue to suffer after reopening due to lack of gov't support

Even as airlines were given the go signal to operate commercial flights, they continue to suffer sudden flight cancellations and erratic scheduling. These are due to flip flopping of decisions and lengthy approval processes of local government units (LGU).

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), there are 27 local airports whose LGUs have issued orders categorically supporting the resumption of commercial airport operations in their areas of jurisdiction.

However, there are still six (6) airports that will start accepting flights on a later date. Sixteen (16) other airports that have not allowed flights to come in due lingering concerns over CoviD-19 outbreaks in their areas.

This has resulted to more locally stranded individuals (LSI) in Manila who end up being transported via maritime transportation back to their hometowns.

According to airline officials, they are just operating on 10% to 15% capacity due to the these decisions made by LGUs. Despite these areas being placed under a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status, these LGUs continue to implement their own rules unknowing of the consequences to the industry and to stranded Filipinos who want to return to their own provinces.

“It’s a tedious process,” said Charo Logarta-Lagamon, Cebu Pacific's spokesperson. “We will not end the problem of stranded passengers if we do not add frequency today.”

Air transportation industry should be given priority

According to a report from Bloomberg, lengthy and changing local-government approval processes have forced last-minute flight cancellations, while jam-packed quarantine venues in the capital region have led to caps on international arrivals, said Jose Enrique Perez de Tagle, vice president of Philippine Airlines.

Some of Philippine Airlines' international flights are also being diverted to Cebu due to lack of biosecurity facilities and operations in Manila.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) is pinning its hopes on Congress passing a 1.3-trillion-peso ($26 billion) stimulus bill by August, which would offer credit guarantees, loan facilities and fee waivers for the airline sector. Providing access to capital is more urgent and less costly than a separate government proposal that would allow state lenders to invest in distressed firms, the group’s vice chairman Roberto Lim said.

LGUs need airlines to drive economic activity and growth

Airlines play a major role in a region's livelihood and economy as they do not only spur local and international tourism, but they are very important in trade due to cargo capacity and speed of delivery. However with the way these LGUs are handling the situation, it seems like they are overlooking at the importance of these airlines.

While health situation in each region is a major concern, LGUs cannot just keep changing decisions last minute leading to sudden flight cancellations. Airlines have bled enough during the last two months and they need to make a quick recovery also in order to survive. Inter-connectivity is very important for a country's growth.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that up to 550,000 direct aviation jobs and jobs dependent on the airline industry may be affected if government does not support the airlines immediately.

Airlines across the world have been pushed to the brink as flights were grounded and countries shut borders to control the spread of Covid-19, prompting governments to throw a lifeline to the industry, according to Bloomberg.

Governments in other countries have pledged to bail-out their own airlines from bankruptcy and trouble. Just lately, Hong Kong government have pledged to bail-out Cathay Pacific from trouble.

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