Help us! Philippine airlines’ government plea

By Josephine Gunther | May 3, 2020

There isn’t an airline in the world that isn’t feeling the impact of Covid-19 right now. While some are starting to see green shoots of recovery – at least within their domestic markets – others are fighting for survival.

In the Philippines, where tourists usually flock to destinations including Boracay and Cebu, the country’s three leading airlines are seeking government help.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), which represents AirAsia Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, is urging the government to step in to waive airport charges and provide credit guarantees.

ACAP predicts that the airline industry will not recover for at least two years, with the body’s executive director Roberto Lim insisting that the airlines do not want a bailout, but need credit guarantees to give banks lending confidence.

Lim says that the airline industry will see shrinkage in the number of flights and the destinations it is possible to serve. At the moment, ACAP airline members have grounded the vast majority of their fleet, apart from aircraft needed for repatriation flights.

However, despite not being operational, airlines are being hit by a number of fixed charges, rental and parking fees as their fleet remains grounded. Lim said that domestic travel would resume first, give that the Philippines is not in control of other international Covid-related restrictions.

The airlines’ plea comes as Philippine Airlines announced further repatriation flights from LA and New York. However, the flights will only be carrying Filipino nationals and those with Philippine passports as well as accredited government officials.

In total, 10 flights are expected to take off from the two US cities between May 4 and May 10. The latest repatriation journeys follow earlier flights organised from both Melbourne and London back to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, AirAsia has announced its own domestic recovery flights within the Philippines for residents who are stranded and need to travel to other parts of the country.

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