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Airline exec: Make COVID-19 rules simpler to boost PH aviation sector

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An executive of low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) on Wednesday said he hopes the government could make COVID-19 protocols simpler to boost the aviation sector’s recovery.

“Before the pandemic, what’s important to the passengers is the cost of the air fare, what’s (affordable). Now the passengers’ concern is more on the travel regulations,” CEB chief commercial officer Xander Lao said in an interview.

He noted that protocols, as well as the COVID registration app, varied in many local government units.

Lao suggested one way to simplify things by allowing passengers to just show their vaccination cards.

Another thing that Lao hopes the Marcos administration would continue is the investments in airports and the training of air traffic controllers.

“We need to increase the capacity so that more flights can be accommodated to and from the country,” Lao said.

The executive, meanwhile, acknowledged the previous administration’s aid to the airline industry, which was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic globally.

At the onset of the pandemic, the government deferred the local carriers’ payment for parking, landing, and take-off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as well as all the airports operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

“The waving of fees is certainly appreciated,” Lao said.

At present, CEB has already reached 100 percent of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity.

“International (capacity), however, is difficult (to reach the 100 percent capacity) because this depends on regulations. Hong Kong, for example, is open but requires quarantine. How could someone want a vacation with quarantine?” he said.

CEB currently has less than 50 percent of its pre-pandemic international capacity. Lao even said that CEB used to fly five times a day to China.

Now it serves the Chinese route only once a day.

“This (international capacity) will be very dependent on how countries reopen,” Lao said.


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