Dubai: Around 360 Filipinos were repatriated from Dubai to Manila on Thursday night as travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government are still in place, Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes confirmed to Gulf News.
Cortes also tweeted a photo of returning Filipinos at Dubai International Airport, with the caption: “360 Filipinos are on their way home tonight via (Philippine Airlines) PR8659. Safe travels kababayans (compatriots).”
Cortes said ten chartered flights were commissioned by the Philippine government since June 1, after it imposed restrictions on May 15 on inbound travel from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the UAE to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant. Metro Manila is under the strictest of four lockdown levels — the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) — until August 20.
“We have repatriated over 2,500 Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates since June 1,” Cortes told Gulf News, adding: “Those who wish to apply for repatriation may send an email to email@example.com.”
He earlier said priority would be given to Filipino patients with no health insurance, pregnant women in their third trimester with no medical insurance, families with children and those with expired visas as well as those whose visas are nearing expiration and who do not have the capacity to apply for a temporary residence permit.
PAL Bayanihan flights
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL), will deploy four special commercial flights from Dubai to Manila — dubbed Bayanihan flights — on August 22, 25, 28 and 30, a Dubai-based spokesperson for the Philippine national carrier confirmed to Gulf News on Friday.
The PAL spokesperson had earlier said that regular commercial flights between the UAE and Philippines had been suspended until August 31.
“Seats are limited for the Bayanihan flights. It will be on a first-come-first-serve basis, but we will give priority to those whose flights were earlier cancelled. They can rebook by calling PAL customer service at 04-3166632. There are no rebooking or fare difference charges, only applicable taxes, if any,” she added.
Negative PCR test result necessary
The airline spokesperson also reminded all passengers bound for Manila to secure a negative PCR test, even for infants, valid for 48 hours before the flight. She noted: “We will be very strict with the validity of the test. To avoid denial at the check-in counter, the passenger must ensure the test is valid for 48 hours — meaning if the flight is on August 22 at 7.30pm, the test must not be taken earlier than 7.30pm on August 20.”
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 can secure a special permit to deploy a Bayanihan flight.