PH carriers looking at three years to full recovery

The aviation industry could take as long as three years to recover to the levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country’s major airlines.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), which comprises Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Philippines, is bracing for a long road to recovery given unpredictable border closures and travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

“It is generally estimated that it will take two to thee years before the airline industry gets back to 2019 traffic levels which have all but disappeared with the global pandemic,” said Robert Lim, VP and executive director of ACAP.

While the sector is slowing emerging from the COVID-19 doldrums, travel demand remains weak.

Civil Aeronautics Board director Carmelo Arcilla said the outlook of the country’s airline industry wad still “quite bleak” as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the world.

Arcilla said there were only 800 flights that flew from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from June 1 to August 31, significantly lower the 47,227 logged in the same period last year.

Lim expects travel demand to return once people feel confident to board a plane again.

“Domestic air travel will lead the way and it is important that the LGUs [local government units] adopt a unified and consistent policy and approach aligned with IATF in processing travelers from Manila ,” he said.

“Aviation is a catalyst for economic development and it can not play that role if there are too many restrictions to travel even on essential ones like business and non leisure purposes,” Lim added.

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