Regular commercial flights between Dubai and Manila on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific will remain suspended until the end of next month. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Regular commercial flights between Dubai and Manila on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific will remain suspended until the end of next month, airline officials confirmed to Gulf News on Friday.

The announcement came following a decision by the Philippine government on Friday to “extend the ban on travellers from 10 countries, including the UAE, until August 15 to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant”.

“Cebu Pacific has cancelled its flights to and from Dubai from August 1 until August 31, 2021, to ensure that its operations restart smoothly and safely. This schedule realignment is geared towards avoiding any last-minute changes that could cause inconvenience to our passengers,” a statement from the Manila-based budget carrier said.

A Dubai-based spokesperson for Philippine Airlines (PAL) also confirmed to Gulf News that the airline had not received any confirmation yet on when commercial flights will resume.

“What we have are special flights, called Bayanihan flights, but these are subject to approval from authorities in Manila,” the PAL official clarified.

The airline official added that a special commercial flight (Flight PR659) left Dubai at 10.20pm on Thursday, bound for Davao. “The flight was originally bound for Manila, but was re-routed to Davao because we were not able to secure hotel quarantine bookings for passengers in Manila,” the official continued.

Hotel quarantine a must

The PAL official also said that based on guidelines set by the Philippine Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), airlines are required to ensure bookings for a 14-day hotel quarantine for all inbound passengers before they secure a special permit to deploy a Bayanihan flight.

“We have already cancelled our flight on August 2 and the flight on August 4 is still tentative,” noted the PAL official, adding: “Passengers must check with the airlines to confirm the flight status before heading to the airport. Before going to the airport, passengers are advised to check travel requirements, flight schedules and safety protocol. Only passengers with verified and confirmed flight schedules should proceed to the airport,” added Cebu Pacific.

48-hour PCR test

All passengers bound for Manila, including infants, must also provide a negative PCR test valid for 48 hours before the flight, the airlines added. Passengers were also advised to update their email addresses to receive notifications and reminders on flights.

Metro Manila under strict quarantine

Meanwhile, Metro Manila will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) with “heightened and additional restrictions” from July 30 to August 5, before placing it under the strictest of four lockdown levels — the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) — from August 6 to 20, “to arrest the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant”, Harry Roque, the Presidential Spokesman, said on Friday.

Paul Raymund Cortes, the Philippine Consul-General in Dubai, had earlier appealed to his countrymen in the UAE to cancel their travel plans “if these are not really urgent”. Cortes had further said that the Philippine missions in the UAE would deploy four weekly repatriation flights to Manila next month. Those who wish to apply for repatriation may send an email to atn6abudhabi@gmail.com if they are from Abu Dhabi and to atn@pcgdubai.ae for those residing in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

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Extended travel ban

On Friday, Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President, extended the current ban on travellers from ten countries — India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the UAE — until August 15.