After suspending flights for almost three months in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s major airlines have announced their resumption of domestic and international flights as they resume operations this month.
The flights, however, will still give priority to repatriation of stranded individuals as leisure is still not allowed as per the government’s COVID-19 Inter Agency Task Force guidelines.
Nevertheless, the news has given Davao region’s travel sector a glimmer of hope, especially that their businesses were totally shut down during the quarantine period.
“We felt relieved because we have stranded clients. However, we are not expecting any tourists soon, so limited flights are better for our safety for now,” said Davao Association of Tour Operators Pia Partoza-Montano.
Some travel agents are also still apprehensive with the resumption of flights.
“We are glad to hear about the resumption of flights, but still skeptical for several reasons. Airlines will most likely cater to rebookings for those whose flights were originally affected due to the cancellations,” Davao Travel Agents Association president Day Uyking said.
Philippine Airlines have announced the reopening of their domestic routes from Manila to Cebu and Davao (June 5); Cagayan de Oro (June 7); Dumaguete, Laoag, Tacloban, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cotabato, Butuan, Dipolog, General Santos, Ozamis, Pagadian and Zamboanga (June 8); Puerto Princesa (June 11); Basco, Legazpi, Busuanga, Kalibo, Kaliclan and Roxas (June 15); and Cebu-Davao flight (June 9).
The country’s flag carrier will also resume international flights to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Honolulu, London Guam, Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Singapore, Xiamen, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, Doha, Dubai, Dammam, Riyadh, Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya between June 1 to 30.
Cebu Pacific also circulated in the media that they will be mounting special repatriation flights from June 3 to 7, with a limited number of domestic routes out of NAIA Terminal 3. This will include flights from Manila to General Santos, Naga, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu. All their international flights remain suspended from June 1 to 30.
Meanwhile, AirAsia will restart flights from Manila to Cebu and Cagayan de Oro (June 5); Davao (June 8); and Puerto Princesa (June 11).
In a Department of Tourism Xl report, 1,441 foreign and 683 domestic tourists were repatriated in 16 sweeper flights organized by DOT, foreign embassies and City Government of Davao as of May 27.
However, since most of the flights are for recovery, agents still can not book for flights for their clientele.
“For now, only airlines are doing bookings. We have not been granted access yet,” she shared.
Some agents are also in a wait-and-see situation as to when they resume bookings for tourism.
“Travel confidence is low for the moment. Maybe once we move to MGCQ, there might be more people who are willing to travel. When we can clearly see how we can adjust to the ‘new normal’, perhaps, that’s also the time when our sector can have a full grasp of the situation,” commented Uyking.