Local air carriers composed of Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, AirAsia Philippines, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express have put in place various safety measures and prepared to resume flights come June 1, 2020 (Cebu Pac Flight Status). This is according to the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), the organization of the country’s leading airlines.
The ACAP said that their member airlines have been gearing up for the resumption of commercial operations once travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are eased. The different airlines will employ different measures, but these will include minimizing physical contact and disinfection of facilities, terminals, and aircraft.
It has been reported that regular flights have been grounded since the middle of March to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The lastest Cebu Pac flight status still says that all flights are still canceled as of May 28, 2020.
Mr. Roberto Lim, ACAP executive director, and vice-chairman, reported that the “new normal” measures include minimized contact between passengers and airline crew and staff, increased deployment of online digital processes for check-in and boarding, and intensified sanitizing and disinfection of all terminal facilities and aircraft. Additionally, he stated, “that all member-airlines will be using aircraft that are equipped with either a system that continuously infuses fresh air across the cabin, or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that substantially trap viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants with 99.99 percent efficiency”. This is reportedly the same technology used in operating rooms of major tertiary medical centers.
It will also be standard that only passengers with confirmed flights will be allowed to enter the airport terminals. Everyone entering the terminals will be subjected to thermal scanning for temperature checks. Likewise, mandatory use of face masks will be imposed on everyone entering the terminal building. Accordingly, all of these measures follow the minimum standards set by the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Philippine Airlines (PAL) President and CEO Gilbert Santa Maria, reported they have to operate aircraft with only between 65 to 75 percent passenger capacity. He continued that PAL would have fewer people on its flights because demand is down. The lower passenger load will allow them to be socially-distanced on board the aircraft.
For example, he continued, a standard aircraft PAL uses Airbus 320, which has a 170 passenger maximum seating capacity. Under the new normal, the aircraft would only accommodate 40 to 50 passengers per flight to allow physical distancing. This might lead to an increase in ticket prices. All passengers would have to wear face masks at all times, with the cabin crews donning complete protection suits during and every flight.
Hopefully, once all travel restrictions are lifted, member airlines will start identifying domestic routes for possible operations. On the other hand, resumption of international route operations will take a longer time since this will involve coordination airport slotting in other countries.
As such, PAL plans to operate a reduced number of flights on most domestic routes and selected international routes by June 1, 2020. This will, of course, involve the abovementioned health protocols like community quarantine restrictions, physical distancing, and also dependent on travel bans imposed by various governments and its impact on passengers’ demand.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), in another report, has been implementing various measures in ensuring the safety of the flying public. MIAA Ed Monreal, to reduce the number of airport personnel and airport management cost, has ordered the closure of NAIA airport terminals 2, 3, and 4 and only allowing the use of terminal 1 for the sweeper and medical cargo flights.
For further Philippine Airlines status info, passengers can visit Philippine Airlines official website or the PAL Facebook Page. For more news on Philippine Airlines, click here. For Cebu Pac Flight Status and report on Cebu Pacific Airlines or head on to Cebu Pacific Official Website. Photo credit to Reuters.