The main international airport for the Philippines will limit arrivals for the next month to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will limit international arrivals to 1,500 daily starting 18 March. The restrictions will end on 19 April according to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).
The country will also temporarily suspend the entry of foreign nationals and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who are non-Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs), beginning 20 March until 19 April with some exceptions. Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials and personnel posted at the NAIA welcomed the government’s decision to temporarily cut the number of inbound travellers from the previous 3,000 to 1,500 passengers per day. The BI said the move “will lessen their exposure to the virus at this time when there is an upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the country.”
Cirium, an aviation analytics company, said that the number of daily seats on international flights to Ninoy Aquino International Airport from January to March remained relatively stable, averaging between about 4,000 to 5,000 seats across the top five airlines. With the latest restrictions, airlines are expected to cancel a sizeable proportion of international flights to and from Manila over the one-month period, Cirium said.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines says it expects to operate its full international schedule for 18 March, but will announce any upcoming flight cancellations for the period “in due course” it said in a statement. Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific announced it will be cancelling its two services to Tokyo’s Narita and Nagoya for the period.
The country recorded nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in total over the past four days, according to figures from the World Health Organisation. Officials have attributed the spike to the easing of some mobility restrictions to enable people to return to work and revive the economy.