Sunday, February 2, 2020

CebuPac cancels all China flights

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific has canceled all its flights between the country and mainland China starting today until March 29 as local and global health authorities scrounge for ways to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. “In light of developments related to the Wuhan coronavirus, Cebu Pacific will be cancelling all flights between the Philippines and mainland China from Feb. 2 to March 29, 2020,” the carrier said in an advisory yesterday.

Cebu Pacific’s mainland China destinations include Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The airline, however, said flights between the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau will continue, but they have been reduced.

Affected Cebu Pacific passengers on cancelled flights may rebook the flight, refund the tickets in full or store the value of the ticket in a travel fund for future use. Cebu Pacific earlier announced only a reduction of its flights between the Philippines, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau from Feb. 5 to March 29, 2020.

The budget carrier flies 232 times weekly between Philippines and mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xiamen), Hong Kong and Macau.

The 38-year-old Chinese female passenger confirmed to be positive with the novel coronavirus took Cebu Pacific flights last Jan. 21 and 22. The airline said the aircraft used for the flights taken by the passenger from Hong Kong to Cebu and Cebu to Dumaguete have been pulled out of the line and made to undergo thorough disinfection.

PAL flights
Philippine Airlines, for its part, started reducing its flights between Manila and Greater China yesterday. The country’s flag carrier earlier said these flights would be reduced by over 50 percent. “All other Manila-China and China-Manila flights are still operational. Nonetheless, we expect that we will need to further reduce our China flights in the coming weeks, based on our daily assessment of the situation and subject to guidelines and instructions from the Department of Health/Bureau of Quarantine and concerned government authorities,” PAL said in its advisory late Friday.

PAL said rebooking and rerouting are allowed for travel until June 30, 2020 with penalties waived. Refunding the cost of tickets is also allowed with penalties waived.

PAL’s China network covers Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Jinjiang, Xiamen, Hong Kong and Macau. The Chinese passenger confirmed to be positive for the novel coronavirus was also a passenger on PAL’s flight from Dumaguete to Manila last Jan. 25.

Senate President Vicente Sotto, meanwhile, is urging Malacañang to order a temporary ban on all foreigners coming from any part of China.

Sotto said the restrictions should not only cover Chinese citizens since other nationalities have also been traveling to and from China. “Flights from China do not only have Chinese people aboard. There are other nationalities on these flights and they, too, should be barred from entering our country. The virus does not discriminate whom it will affect. It can affect anyone,” Sotto said.

“Our country cannot take this lightly because anyone can catch the virus without them knowing it, like the case in Germany. A traveler from China who did not know that he had the virus infected a German. The government should take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and health of our people,” he said.