Dubai: Airlines are yet to announce flight details on the UAE-Philippines sector despite the lifting of a travel ban that has now gone on for months from Monday (September 6).
“It (announcement of flight schedules) could happen any moment now,” said a spokesperson for Abu Dhabi-based Atlas Travel. “As of now, they are showing a schedule for ‘Bayanihan flights,’ but for commercial flights they haven’t opened the availability yet.”
The Philippines on Saturday said it was lifting a COVID-19 ban on travelers from 10 countries, including the UAE and Indonesia. The ban was introduced in April. “We are receiving a lot of enquiries– we had a five-month travel ban before, that's why our kababayan are so eager to go back to the Philippines,” said a spokesperson for Pinoy Tourism and Travels.
Airlines are currently operating Bayanihan flights, which are special commercial flights approved by the Philippines government. Under this arrangement, Etihad has Manila-bound flights scheduled on September 9, 11, 12, 16 and 18. The Abu Dhabi carrier is seen having daily flights in the last two weeks of the month.
Etihad did not immediately respond to a query on the airline’s flight plans in light of the latest announcement. Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific had previously said that regular commercial flights between Dubai and Manila would remain suspended in September as well. Special flights are on for now.
PAL last confirmed that Flight PR659 from Dubai to Manila will be deployed on September 2, 4, 6, 8, 14, 16, 18 and 22, while Cebu Pacific will operate Flight 5J15 from Dubai at 3am (UAE time) on September 4, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27 and 29. A spokesperson for Cebu said they were on standby and waiting for an official advisory from the low-cost airline.
Travel agents said that the UAE could fall into Philippines’ ‘yellow list’ category, which is used to classify countries at moderate risk. Inbound international travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, coming from or with travel history from yellow-list nations within the past 14 days before their arrival in the Philippines should strictly follow the entry, testing, and quarantine protocols:
• Travelers should undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. They have to complete the first 10 days in a quarantine facility while the remaining four days must be spent under home quarantine in their respective local government units (LGUs) of destination.
• Travelers must undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on the seventh day, with the day of arrival as Day 1. Notwithstanding a negative test result, they have to complete their facility quarantine for 10 days.
• The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) will strictly conduct symptoms monitoring during the 10-day isolation period of travelers.
• The foregoing shall be subject to special protocols approved by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) or the Office of the President for certain classes of travelers or ports of origin.
The special flights to Philippines, owing to the limited seats, are quite expensive with a Philippine Airlines flight from Dubai charging about Dh11,000 on September 11. An Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Manila will set passengers back by at least Dh12,000.
Flights from Manila to Dubai fall within the range of Dh1,000 to Dh1,500 and the same goes for flights to Abu Dhabi from the Filipino capital.