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Tail sections of Philippine airlines (PAL) aircrafts are seen parked at the terminal II building of the Manila international airport Image Credit: AFP

Manila: In-bound international flights to the Philippines have seen a rebound, posting an up to 300% jump in daily arrivals, a senior airport official said Friday.

Domestic travel, meanwhile, is expected to soar to pre-pandemic levels in the days leading up to Easter (April 17, 2022), according to Ed Monreal, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

Monreal said international arrivals have risen three-fold from the previous average of 5,000 per day, to up to 15,000 daily now.

As for domestic passengers, the current daily volume is about 80 per cent of the 2019 level, before the coronavirus triggered lockdowns, the official added.

“I expect the average number of flights during the Holy Week will match pre-pandemic levels,” Monreal told local media in an interview. “That’s just for domestic travel. That is the demand.”

From Monday (April 11) the predominantly-Catholic Philippines observes the Holy Week, the most sacred period in the liturgical year in Christianity. The week is a school and working holiday, which ends the 40-day Lent (or “Quaresma”) on Saturday, April 16, 2022, the day before Easter Sunday.

“In terms of domestic travel, we have not reached pre-pandemic level figures, but we are nearing it. We are about 80 per cent level of the pre-pandemic figures in relation to domestic travel,” he said.

On March 28, NAIA’s Terminal 4 (T4) resumed domestic flight operations. NAIA T4 now serves Cebu Pacific's CebGo, AirAsia Philippines and AirSWIFT Airlines.

Domestic operations of the three carriers were shifted to Terminal 3 in June 2020 amid pandemic travel curbs. Cebu Pacific's CebGo now operates 27 domestic flights from T4, moving them out NAIA T3.

Terminal 1 NAIA Manila Airport
A scene in Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

300% rise in international arrivals

The number of inbound international flight passengers has seen a three-fold rise, the official confirmed.

“Despite this, I just want to emphasise that the there is still a pandemic. That’s why the public still needs to be careful when traveling, especially to domestic destinations. All health protocols must be followed,” the official added.

Monreal said MIAA is prepared for the Holy Week influx of travellers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Alert Level 1

On Friday (April 8, 2022), the Philippine government placed more areas under Alert Level 1, the least restrictive in the country’s five-tiered system, covering the period April 9 -15, 2022.

Areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 (from April 9-15):

  • Metro Manila (16 cities, 1 municipality)
  • Mountain Province
  • Southern Leyte
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Buguias in Benguet
  • Atimonan and Tiaong in Quezon province
  • Santa Magdalena in Sorsogon
  • City of Masbate in Masbate province
  • Batad and Zarraga in Iloilo
  • City of Talisay in Cebu
  • Javier (Bugho) and La Paz in Leyte
  • Maslog in Eastern Samar
  • Paranas (Wright) in Western Samar
  • Linamon in Lanao del Norte
  • Calamba in Misamis Occidental
  • Padada in Davao del Sur
  • Sibagat in Agusan del Sur
  • Tubajon and Cagdianao in Dinagat Islands

The presidential palace said on Friday that areas not on the above list should retain their respective COVID-19 alert levels until April 15.