Philippine Airlines drops all domestic Manila service in face of COVID-19 spike

The government is imposing strict measures for the metro Manila area.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and other carriers from the Philippines have canceled all domestic flights to and from the key Manila market due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines is the latest country in the Asia-Pacific region to experience a second outbreak of coronavirus cases. Similar spikes have hit markets like Australia, Japan and Vietnam, threatening to stall recoveries in domestic travel demand.

In the Philippines, a significant rise in the number of daily cases has prompted the government to reimpose stricter measures—known as the modified enhanced community quarantine—for the metro Manila area. This means domestic passenger flights to and from Ninoy Aquino International (MNL) have been suspended for a 14-day period from Aug. 4. 

PAL confirmed it was canceling its domestic Manila flights for this period, although the carrier will continue to operate internal flights between Clark (CRK), Cebu (CEB) and other Philippine cities. However, some of these destinations—such as Davao (DVO) and Zamboanga (ZAM)—are requiring COVID-19 tests for travelers from other parts of the country.

International flights are not affected by the new domestic quarantine arrangements, although border rules have already dramatically reduced PAL’s international schedule. The carrier is operating 1-2 times a week on several international routes, and 3-4 times a week to a few of its key overseas markets.

LCC Cebu Pacific will operate domestic passenger routes between Cebu and Clark and between Cebu and Davao for the Aug. 4-18 period. Each flight will be once a week. Cebu Pacific is also operating limited frequencies on international routes to Dubai (DXB), Osaka (KIX), Seoul (ICN), Singapore (SIN) and Tokyo (NRT).

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week