Economy

Shorter quarantine period for all passengers from abroad sought

JOEY Concepcion says airlines ‘have to be viable’ to protect them from bankruptcy. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” A. Concepcion III said on Saturday that embattled Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) has sought to shorten the quarantine period for all arriving passengers from abroad.

Mr. Concepcion said he recently met with representatives from Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Philippines AirAsia to discuss their concerns and some ways to help the struggling sector survive the pandemic crisis.

“So nag-usap kami (We talked). We invited Dr. Edsel T. Salvana, the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) medical adviser,” he said at a virtual Palace briefing on Saturday.

“With the idea of PAL which was presented, maybe we can reduce the quarantine of incoming passengers… to the Philippines down from ten days plus four days at home to maybe seven days,” he added, noting that the shortened quarantine period should help tourists with their expenses.

The official said airlines “have to be viable” to protect them from bankruptcy.

“If the airlines do not become viable and they close, masisira iyong ibang sektor natin, ang tourism (other sectors will be affected, including tourism),” Mr. Concepcion said.

PAL has filed for Chapter 11 creditor protection in the United States. Its listed holding company, PAL Holdings, Inc. (not included in the Chapter 11 filing), had been incurring losses even before the global health crisis. Its attributable net loss widened to P71.91 billion in 2020 from P10.31 billion in 2019.

In a summary of the meeting sent by PAL to BusinessWorld on Sunday, the airline said it was represented by its president and chief operating officer, Gilbert F. Santa Maria, and its senior vice-president and chief strategy and planning officer, Dexter C. Lee.

Philippines AirAsia Chief Executive Officer Ricardo P. Isla and Cebu Pacific Vice-President for Cargo Alex B. Reyes were also present at the meeting.

In the meeting summary, Messrs. Santa Maria and Lee were quoted as saying that international travelers find requirements such as testing and quarantine periods to be “very burdensome,” forcing them to put off their travel plans.

They proposed that passengers be tested 72 hours prior to departure, quarantined upon arrival, and required take an RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test on the third day.

Passengers with a negative result should be allowed to leave the quarantine facility on the fifth day so that they can continue their quarantine at home.

PAL said the proposal would enable passengers to save up to P25,000.

It also wants the IATF to include North America on the list of green countries.

Fully vaccinated passengers from green or low-risk countries are allowed to enter the Philippines. They are required to undergo a seven-day facility-based quarantine.

PAL said it earned $1 billion from the North American market prior to the pandemic crisis.

Other groups that attended the meeting with Messrs. Concepcion and Salvana were Philippine Hotel Owners Association, LT Group, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, MacroAsia Corp., Victory Liner, Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas, Inc., ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and Go Negosyo. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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