LOCAL carriers have urged the government to ease mobility for vaccinated Filipinos to spur travel demand and help airlines recoup their losses due to the pandemic.
In a joint statement sent to the media by Philippine Airlines (PAL), aviation players PAL, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia said they have met with Department of Health (DOH) Adviser Edsel Salvana with Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to air their concerns about the industry.
Collectively, they are asking for “increased mobility among the vaccinated within the transport sector.”
Among these rules that they hope can be done away with are the multiple requirements for traveling, especially for domestic destinations, and expensive testing as most destinations require an RT-PCR test and the long quarantines for arriving passengers from international flights.
PAL said in the statement that vaccinated international travelers are discouraged from traveling due to the “burdensome” requirements of local and national governments.
“Travelers consider requirements such as testing and the quarantine periods very burdensome, forcing them to put off their travel plans,” the Tan-led carrier said.
The airline also proposed a new protocol to reduce risk and cost to passengers of international flights.
Under PAL’s proposal, passengers will be tested 72 hours before departure and will undergo quarantine upon arrival and take an RT-PCR test on the third day. If the result is negative, they can go out of the quarantine facility on the 5th day and continue home quarantine.
Based on the data presented, testing before departure helps reduce positivity rate and risk. The proposal would also enable passengers to save as much as P25,000 aside from enjoying a more comfortable quarantine in the comfort of their own home.
Cebu Pacific VP Alex Reyes added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has to release specific guidelines for fully vaccinated Filipinos to travel locally. This, he said, will jumpstart tourism and economic activities in various destinations.
“They only must present a vaccination card or DICT vaccination certificate as sole requirement” said Reyes, adding local government units may require RT-PCR test for unvaccinated travelers.
For his part, AirAsia CEO Ricky Isla proposed the use of antigen testing if testing will still be required as it is more convenient and cheaper.
Salvana said he supports the reopening of businesses, but insisted that it be done safely.
“I understand the plight of the air-line industry. I promise to put all of their concerns and proposals on the table in our next meeting,” he was quoted as saying in the same statement.