Air passenger traffic in the domestic market fell by 83 percent in the first quarter this year from a year ago, due to the travel restrictions and suspension of leisure flights amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Latest data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that domestic carriers only flew 988,212 passengers in January to March this year, a significant decline from 5.9 million passengers carried in the same period last year.
The government extended the travel restrictions and leisure flights were suspended last March which further dragged down the passenger volume in the first quarter, while last year’s domestic travel was only disrupted in mid-March due to the pandemic.
Local airlines are still operating below 30 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.
Cebu Pacific (CEB) and its unit CebGo remained the leading domestic carrier having flown 467,684 passengers in the first quarter.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its unit PAL Express carried 369,474 passengers.
AirAsia Philippines flew 143,370 passengers during the period.
CAB said other local airlines, AirSwift Transport Inc. and Island Aviation Corp,, have carried 5,852 and 1,832 passengers, respectively, during the period.
However, several domestic airlines that suspended their operations in the first quarter have not submitted their passenger volume with the air regulator during the period.
These include Air Juan Aviation Inc., Astro Air International Inc., Magnum Air (Skyjet) Inc. and Royal Air Charter Service Inc.
Recently, the Department of Transportation allowed domestic commercial operations to resume in areas covered by the general community quarantine (GCQ).
This after the government lowered the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) enforced over Metro Manila and other major parts of the country into GCQ starting June 1.
Aside from Metro Manila, other areas now under GCQ are Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Albay and Davao City.
Regular commercial air travel was previously suspended in areas covered by ECQ and MECQ to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Beginning June 4, CEB began flying twice daily between Manila and Boracay. Apart from this route, CEB also operates regular flights to Bacolod, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and more local destinations.
Meanwhile, PAL is operating in 38 domestic destinations originating from Manila, Cebu, Davao and Clark International Airport.
PAL said under the current government quarantine restrictions, point-to-point travel from NCR Plus to areas under MECQ shall be allowed without age restrictions subject to an RT-PCR test-before-travel requirement for those below 18 years old and 65 years old and other protocols. – Myla Iglesia