Dubai: Philippine Airlines (PAL) has suspended its Dubai-Manila flights (PR658) for March 18 and 20, following an order from the Philippines government to cap the number of international passengers arriving in Manila to 1,500 a day for all airlines combined from March 18 until April 19.
“Philippine Airlines will be announcing additional flight cancellations for the remainder of the stated period once the details are confirmed,” PAL said on its website.
A PAL official in Dubai told Gulf News that the scheduled flights on Friday and Sunday (March 19 and 21, respectively) at 7.55pm (UAE time) will not be affected, but the number of passengers will be limited. PAL said “the restrictions are part of a series of pandemic control measures announced by (Philippine) authorities”.
On Tuesday, the Philippines National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) issued a memorandum restricting inbound travel to the Philippines for foreign nationals and returning Filipinos who are non-overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for one month, from March 20 until April 19.
NTF noted Philippines authorities have been trying to contain a spike in coronavirus infections in past weeks as daily cases hit a seven-month high of 5,404 on March 15 and health experts predict the figure could double by the end of March.
“The significant rise in cases since the start of the year is highly likely to be attributed to increased transmission due to noncompliance to the minimum public health standards during gatherings, increased mobility of people, delays in detection and isolation of infected patients, and the entry of SARS-CoV2 variants of concern having potential increased transmissibility,” said NTF chair and National Defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Following a cap of 1,500 inbound passengers, the NTF said only the following types of travellers are allowed to enter the Philippines:
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Holders of 9(C) visas (seafarers).
Passengers on medical repatriation and their escort/s duly endorsed by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Distressed Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) duly endorsed by endorsed by DFA-OUMWA.
Emergency, humanitarian and other cases approved by the National Task Force on COVID-19.
PAL said those not allowed to travel to the Philippines within the said period can avail of any of the following options:
Rebook on the flight of your choice (on the same cabin class) with rebooking service fees waived.
Refund ticket cost.
Convert ticket into a travel voucher for future use.