Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is temporarily banned from flying passengers to Hong Kong from Manila after one of its recent flights carried three persons infected with the coronavirus disease.
According to the Centre for Health Protection of Hong Kong’s Department of Health, PAL flight PR-300 had three passengers confirmed to have COVID-19 after testing on arrival on Aug. 27.
This developed as Cathay Pacific announced the permanent closure of its Manila and Cebu ticketing offices effective Sept. 1, 2021, another business casualty of the pandemic.
“As we strive to bring a safer and contactless service option for customers, all ticketing transactions and inquiries may be coursed through our Global Contact Centers, which are available 24/7,” the Hong Kong-based airline announced last week through its official Facebook page.
Despite the closure of the physical offices, Cathay Pacific assured it will still have flights to Manila and Cebu City. Passengers may also book flights through their website at www.cathaypacific.com.
In a statement forwarded by the Manila International Airport Authority to members of the media on Saturday, Philippine Airlines management said it would continue the passenger flights from Hong Kong to Manila every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, according to planned schedules.
“In the other direction, while PAL will not be able to carry passengers from Manila to Hong Kong up to September 11 to comply with the restriction, we will continue to operate all-cargo flights into Hong Kong,” PAL stated.
“We reiterate that the top priority of Philippine Airlines has always been the safety and health of our passengers. We consistently comply with industry and regulatory safety protocols in the Philippines and abroad,” PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna said.
PAL said it had stopped flying passengers from Manila to Hong Kong until September 11 to comply with the temporary travel restriction.
PAL officials also assured air travelers that strict safety measures were in place to protect passengers throughout the journey on their flights.
“Our advanced cabin air flow systems ensure a protective air flow inflight, and each plane has onboard HEPA filters to cleanse cabin air from bacteria and viruses. Our cabin crew who serve and assist wear full PPEs as well as face masks and shields. Every aircraft surface is also sanitized and disinfected after every flight,” they said.
PAL said the three involved passengers -- two Filipinos and a Chinese national -- presented negative COVID-19 test results when they checked in for their PR-300 flights.
The airline urged their clients affected by the ban to rebook, refund, or convert their tickets into a travel voucher. It stated that rebooking and refund service fees are waived.
Meanwhile, Philippines-bound travelers, both foreign and Filipinos, are urged to use the country’s health pass system to avoid inconvenience, a Bureau of Quarantine official said Monday.
The OneHealthPass automates all processes for travelers, from their medical declaration up to their quarantine, said Deputy Director Dr. Roberto Salvador Jr.
Travelers can log their personal and flight details at the OneHealthPass website and fill up their health declaration.
They will be given a QR code, which authorities will scan to get the information upon arrival in the Philippines, Salvador said.
He said travelers would then be required to attend an orientation, get immigration clearance, and head to their quarantine hotel.
The OneHealthPass system, in a two-week trial run, cut this process to 30 minutes to one hour, from several hours.
After getting their COVID-19 test result and quarantine certificate, the OneHealthPass system will notify the local government of their destination that travelers have been cleared, added Salvador.