Airline companies halt flights from China to PH amid nCoV scare

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – Airline companies have voluntarily submitted their letter to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) citing their decision to cancel all flights to and from China due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Kalibo International Airport in Aklan accommodates most of direct flights from the Philippines to China, particularly Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak.

“Nag declare o nag-request na sa amin at nag-inform sa CAAP at sa Kalibo Airport Authority kahapon, nagstart na silang magbawas ng flight at hanggang bukas, wala ng flight na manggaling from China to Kalibo, (They have declared or requested us to inform CAAP and Kalibo Airport Authority that yesterday they have started flight cancellations. Beginning tomorrow, flights from China to Kalibo are also cancelled),” explained CAAP Spokesperson Eric Apolonio.

CAB records show about 742 commercial flights and 351 chartered flights have already been cancelled due to the threats of 2019-nCoV.

“The figures are increasing. Approve kami ng approve kasi syempre even the flights to other cities in China are declining,” said CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla.

“There is a stiff decline in the number of flights which is expected given the prevailing circumstances,” he added.

Cebu Pacific, meanwhile, already cancelled flights to China thus affecting travels to Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland from February 25 to March 29.

Philippine Airlines, likewise, cancelled all its flights to several destinations in China.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has intensified its screening measures on all arriving passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following the confirmation of the first case of nCoV infection in the country.

Special lanes have been activated where each passenger is being scrutinized and checked.

Footbaths are also in place for disinfecting foot wears upon arrival.

The BI is also preparing its team of immigration officers with background in health care to coordinate with other concerned agencies in the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos from China.

“We prefer them to be different from maybe in a special tarmac. Hindi na sila dadaan dito (They do not need to proceed here),” explained Grifton Medina, the Bureau’s Chief of Port Operation Division.

Ang immigration officers na po (The immigration officers), since it’s a special flight, pupuntahan na sila doon sa landing ( will go to the landing area) ng eroplano. Meron nalang po sigurong secluded area to stay kasi automatic ito na ika-quarantine rin, (We will assign an area for them to stay in because they are automatically subject for quarantine),” Medina concluded. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

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