Many were caught in surprise when the Philippine government posted in a Facebook post the suspension of all incoming and outgoing flights to the country beginning on May 3rd, 2020 at 8 AM.
The notice made on the social media page of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport attributed the source out of the decision made by National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. which was fully endorsed by the Dept. of Transportation.
On the decision of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 for the TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF USAGE of all PH international airports for inbound international passenger flights
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) accedes to the decision of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to temporarily suspend the use of all international airports in the country effective 0800 of 03 May 2020 for international inbound passenger flights, except enroute emergencies.
We understand that said request, which we reiterate is a temporary measure, was made by the NTF to DOTr in order to allow the current system to ramp up its capacity to properly process the growing number of Filipino repatriates going back to the Philippines daily.
Currently, the government has already accommodated around 20,000 repatriates who are quarantined in Metro Manila, with an arrival rate of 2,000 per day. This measure to temporarily suspend international passenger arrivals will enable the government to decongest the processing of this number to a more manageable level, given the need to observe strict health protocols, and the fact that existing quarantine facilities are at full capacity.
The move is deemed necessary in order to ensure that our country will not experience a second wave of Covid-19 pandemic due to the increasing number of international passenger arrivals. It should be noted that most of our repatriated citizens are coming from countries which experienced significant Covid-19 outbreak.
It will also allow the government’s front line agencies that are tasked to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to upgrade their testing and screening protocols, and expand the existing quarantine and treatment facilities and ensure a more comfortable quarantine arrangement for our repatriated kababayans.
Accordingly, the DOTr assures NTF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez of its full cooperation, and agreement in the adoption of this TEMPORARY SUSPENSION of usage of all international airports for international inbound passenger flights, effective 0800 of 03 May 2020 until 09 May 2020.
Several parts of the country have were declared under general community quarantine and eased their lockdown or quarantine measures since Friday, May 1.
From the Office of the National Task Force Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. –
The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 has made the decision to temporarily restrict flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila and all other international airports in the country except for the following: (1) Emergencies while enroute; (2) Cargo Flights; (3) Air Ambulance and medical supplies flights; (4) Weather Mitigation Flights; and (5) Maintenance Flights. Also allowed to continue are sweeper flights for foreign nationals repatriating back to their respective countries. All domestic air arrivals and departures at the NAIA will remain suspended.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) added that International Flights wishing to land and depart must request exemption with the CAAP OPCEN at least 36 hours before the scheduled departure from their place of origin.
This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are well taken cared of when they arrive from abroad. As of today, there are already approximately 20,000 OFWs undergoing mandatory quarantine in Metro Manila.
The new flight restriction is only temporary and will be implemented for one week to give the government the opportunity to decongest the quarantine facilities in Metro Manila.
The government earlier declared some areas under enhanced community quarantine which include Metro Manila, Davao City and Cebu. The three cities hosts the three busiest international airports in the country.