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Local Carriers Appeal For Simplified Travel Requirements

Local Carriers Appeal For Simplified Travel Requirements
Arriving overseas Filipinos line up at the immigration counter inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on Nov. 19, 2021. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

Local carriers are appealing to the government to further simplify requirements and adjust the country’s travel policies in anticipation of higher demand in the coming holiday season.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), in a statement, said the local airline industry is currently experiencing high demand for flights based on forward bookings and passenger inquiries.

However, ACAP said passengers continue to face challenges due to varying requirements set by the local government units (LGUs).

On domestic travel, ACAP is urging LGUs to accept vaccine cards, with or without QR codes.

This will simplify the proof of vaccination requirement regardless of the origin of the vaccine card, the group said.

On international travel, ACAP is appealing to the government to increase to 10,000 the current cap of 4,000 passengers daily on international arrivals.

ACAP also said fully vaccinated inbound travelers from “Green List” countries should no longer form part of and be excluded from the daily cap on international arrivals, considering that these travelers are no longer undergoing facility-based quarantine upon their arrival.

ACAP is likewise calling for a reduction of quarantine days for fully-vaccinated passengers from “Yellow List” countries, from the current five days to just two days.

“If considered and adopted by the government, these recommendations would enable travelers, especially overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans who have long been wanting to re-turn to the Philippines for Christmas, to enjoy seamless, convenient and hassle-free travel across all touchpoints of their journey,” ACAP said.

“Further, these measures, once implemented, will be a huge boost to a recovering aviation and tourism industry, both of which were badly hit by the pandemic,” it said.

ACAP is composed of Air Philippines Corp. (PAL Express), Cebgo Inc., Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific), Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) and Philippines AirAsia Inc. (AirAsia Philippines).

While batting for simpler requirements, the firms assured the government of their continued implementation of multi-layered approaches to safety to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Lowering of alert levels has led air carriers to ramp up international and domestic flights, subject to prevailing travel restrictions.

Increased passenger arrivals are expected in the travel peak month of December.

Cebu Pacific said that 24 of its 33 domestic destinations no longer require negative RT-PCR test results for fully vaccinated passengers, while AirAsia Philippines earlier said all its domes-tic destinations no longer require COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated individuals.

PAL, meanwhile, said it is working with authorities for the opening of alternative gateway airports in the country.

“We are doing our best to reroute more inbound flights to land in Cebu, Bohol, Subic and Davao to prevent the cancellation of previously scheduled flights due to the Manila arrival limits,” the flag carrier said.

“Recently, we were able to bring in more than 10,000 OFWs and overseas Filipinos by using these alternate gateways, thus preventing the cancellation of their flights and greater inconvenience,” it said.

The Department of Tourism earlier said that international tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to enter the Philippines soon, beginning with those from green-listed countries.