THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) called for the easing of travel restrictions in order to aid the recovery of airlines.

In a statement Thursday, the PCCI said it is supporting the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines’ request to gradually phase out the quota for international passenger arrivals, resume international business travel, and allow some local air travel.

PCCI also supported bilateral arrangements with selected countries to fast-track non-leisure travel and re-open some tourist destinations.

“The status quo could prove fatal not only to the airline operators but to airline suppliers and the whole air transport supply (chain) reliant on continuing to deliver new equipment and supplying spare parts and maintenance services, as well as enterprises, a number of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that provision each flight — manufacturers and/or suppliers of food products, cutlery, sanitary paper, water, blankets, cleaning and maintenance services, etc.,” PCCI President Benedicto V. Yujuico said.

“These SME suppliers of goods and services are dependent on the operation of the aircraft to remain in business.”

The PCCI offered to assist the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in easing restrictions for business travelers.

“The IATF-EID is also looking at allowing passengers to take their COVID-19 test abroad one to two days before their departure. As an active member of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), PCCI can assist in the proposal to secure a letter of invitation to establish the nature of travel of business people,” Mr. Yujuico said.

The PCCI also said that Philippine carriers should be given preference in traveler quota allocations for direct or connecting flights.

“This Philippine air carriers-first allocation should be extended to foreign business travelers once restrictions on business travel are lifted,” Mr. Yujuico added.

The travel industry is poised to lose $7.7 billion or 2% of GDP after a four-month tourism standstill, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated in a report issued July 1.

The four-month pause likely caused a 3% drop in the wages of skilled workers, while pay for unskilled work fell 4%. The Philippines is the 14th most-affected country in terms of unskilled employment in the UNCTAD report, which looked at 65 countries and regions. — Jenina P. Ibañez