Airlines say they’re ready for ‘new normal’ in air travel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — Local air carriers are now equipped to resume flights, with several safety measures in place to stem coronavirus spread, according to an airline industry association.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) said the country’s leading airlines have been gearing up for resumption of operations under the so-called new normal once travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are eased.

The industry group is composed of members AirAsia Philippines, Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express.

ACAP executive director and vice chairman Roberto Lim said the new normal will include minimized contact between passengers and airline staff, increased utilization of online and digital processes for check-in and boarding, and intensified disinfection of all aircraft and facilities.

According to the group, member-airlines also use aircraft equipped with either a system that “continuously infuses fresh air across the cabin," or air filters that efficiently trap viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants.

Further, only passengers with confirmed flights will be allowed to enter the airport. Thermal scanning and mandatory use of face masks for everyone entering the terminal building will also be observed.

ACAP also reiterated its appeal for government aid for member-airlines under the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act. The group seeks assistance via long term credit facility, working capital credit lines, credit guarantee arrangements, and temporary relief from navigational and airport charges.

READ: House panel OKs ₱1.3-trilion stimulus package, 2 other COVID-19 bills

“To be clear, we are not asking for a bail-out or dole-out from government,” Lim said. “What we are asking for is a hand-up to help airlines recover.”

The executive director added that several national governments across the world have already granted their country’s airlines with relief packages and inclusion in stimuli programs.

Besides generating over 543,000 jobs, ACAP also noted that the aviation industry is intertwined with other industries, such as travel and tourism, “encapsulating up to 5.4 million Filipino jobs.”

“The decrease in air transport activity does not only threaten airlines but also the local communities dependent on tourism,” the association said.