MNS photo

MANILA, Sept 21 (Mabuhay) — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), which recently filed for bankruptcy in the United States, on Tuesday called on the government to consider easing travel and quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals.

In a virtual briefing, PAL President Gilbert Santa Maria said the airline industry was among the hardest-hit sectors due to the pandemic, and carriers continue to incur losses.

“For the sake of our economy, I beg our decision makers to listen… Set up prudent policies that are very supportive of our economy, kasi wala namang silbi ‘yung maglockdown tayo, zero COVID, pero patay naman ang ekonomiya natin,” he said.

“What we are asking for is that some reasonable restrictions be lifted and done in sync across the entire archipelago so all carriers can fly. This is important for the survival of PAL, but I’m not asking on behalf of PAL. I’m asking on behalf of everyone who needs to fly,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino during the Pandesal Forum.

PAL filed for bankruptcy in New York earlier this month, as part of its restructuring plan. It is confident over exiting the corporate restructuring process by the end of the year.

Among PAL’s requests is to increase the inbound passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is currently capped at 2,000 daily. This was at 40,000 daily before the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also requesting the government reduce the number of required quarantine days for fully vaccinated travelers from overseas.

“What we are asking for is that the restrictions on travel of human beings, of people vaccinated — that within our islands or from countries like the United States and Canada, as well as the Middle East — the quarantine restrictions be eased,” Santa Maria said.

The private sector, led by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III, is supportive of “bakuna bubbles” where establishments will be given the prerogative to only accept vaccinated individuals.

Trading of shares in PAL Holdings Inc., the major shareholder of the carrier, has been suspended since June 16 when it closed at P6.05 apiece. (MNS)

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