PH airspace shutdown on May 17 could cost up to ₱300M – economist

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — The six-hour shutdown of the entire Philippine airspace on May 17 could cost the economy as much as ₱300 million, according to Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort.

"It ranges from about ₱100 to ₱300 million. That would be largely on passengers taking airlines. Most specially the foreign tourists," Ricafort told CNN Philippines' Politics As Usual on Wednesday.

"Because in a day, we do the math for the contribution to our economy, for foreign tourism businesses alone, it's around ₱600 million per day. About a third of half of which will be disrupted by the closure of airport operations," he explained.

Ricafort said the temporary shutdown would largely impact the tourism sector, including the hotel industry or lodging-related businesses, restaurants, and retailers.

The six-hour shutdown is to allow for maintenance activities aimed at preventing future power outages at the country's airports, the most recent of which occurred on May 1 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The economist previously estimated that the New Year's Day technical failure at NAIA — which affected over 300 flights — would cost ₱100 million in economic losses.

The scheduled temporary closure of the Philippine airspace is likely to disrupt just about 130 flights, but is expected to cost more because the country has "more tourists right now compared to a few months ago," according to Ricafort.

Ricafort also pointed out that domestic and foreign travelers right now have "finite" vacation days that they would rather opt to visit other countries given the constraints.

"Certainty is of course important, as well as predictability. If they cannot arrive at their places of destination within the country, they would have to forego what otherwise they will be spending," he said.