NAIA passenger volume down due to virus scare

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    PASSENGER volume at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) dropped by 16.74 percent for international flights and 3.42 percent for domestic travel, following the coronavirus scare, and eventually the travel ban that was imposed on some areas, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal yesterday.

    Monreal, in a briefing in Malacañang, said the 16.74 percent drop, which covers the period January 25 to February 17, translates to about 300,000 international passengers, or a drop to 1,352,692 from 1,624,698 during the same period last year.

    He said 3.42 percent drop in domestic passenger traffic amounts to about 50,000 or to 1,406,876 passengers for January 25 to February 17 2010 from 1,456,705 passengers in 2019.

    He said flights had also dropped by 22 percent following the cancelation of flights going to China and its special administrative regions.

    The government on February 2 imposed a travel ban to China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the coronavirus disease outbreak in Wuhan City in China. The travel ban was later expanded to Taiwan.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said government is eyeing lifting the ban on travel to Xiamen and Jiangxi provinces in mainland China.

    Monreal said government foresees an improvement following the lifting of the Taiwan travel ban. The government also partially lifted the travel ban on Hong Kong and Macau.

    Monreal said arrangements to boost local tourism are also being adopted by tourism industry players including airline and hotel operators, like discounts and more travel packages.

    Monreal said airline operators are bracing for other problems that might arise from the mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning crewmembers on flights that are coming from Hong Kong and Macau and other countries with confirmed coronavirus cases.

    He said the mandatory quarantine for arriving passengers and flight crew would eventually take a toll on their operational requirements of airlines.

    Monreal said some foreign carriers are already flying to Hong Kong “on a reduced capacity” because of the virus scare.

    He said the government interagency task force together with airline stakeholders are now studying the matter and will come up with resolution by the end of the week. – With Ashzel Hachero

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