By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and budget carrier Philippines AirAsia, Inc. announced on Friday the cancellation of hundreds of their domestic flights to and from Manila from March 15 to April 14 in view of the implementation of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “community quarantine” order.

PAL, operated by PAL Holdings, Inc., said in an advisory that it was cancelling its domestic air travel to and from Manila during the said period to protect the public from the deadly COVID-19.

Mr. Duterte’s order came after the code alert system for COVID-19 in the Philippines was raised to Code Red Sublevel 2, which means that community transmission is already evident.

Both PAL and AirAsia said flights that are not bound for Manila will continue their normal operations.

AirAsia said 102 domestic round trip flights daily will be affected.

PAL said 60 of its daily domestic flights are going to be affected.

“This is a developing situation. We shall provide further updates. As of this time, we are awaiting the official guidelines in relation to the implementation of this temporary suspension of domestic flights to/from Manila,” PAL said.

“Rest assured that we will comply with all government mandates and continue to coordinate closely with the government authorities in the interest of the health and safety of all our passengers,” it added.

Both airlines allow their passengers to rebook their flight tickets to a new travel date for free or obtain a full refund.

For AirAsia tickets, a passenger may retain the value of his fare in his AirAsia BIG Loyalty account for future travel with the carrier.

PAL allows its passengers to reroute their tickets on the same fare class.

Apart from domestic air travel, Mr. Duterte’s order also covers land and domestic sea travel to and from Metro Manila.

The measure is subject to daily monitoring and reassessment by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said flights from Metro Manila going to and coming from abroad will be allowed, but subject to travel restrictions that are currently in place.

“Anyone flying in from abroad via Ninoy Aquino International Airport will remain in Metro Manila until the domestic travel ban is lifted, and again, that begins on March 15. If the ultimate destination is in the provinces, we suggest to fly in via Clark, Cebu and other airports that are not under quarantine, so you can proceed to your ultimate destination in the provinces,” he said in a briefing.