By Genalyn Kabiling
The government will conduct a careful study on the request of airlines for concessions, such as the temporary lifting of travel taxes and other fees, supposedly aimed at boosting domestic tourism amid the coronavirus threat, a top airport official said.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Eddie Monreal said airline companies have sent letters seeking such considerations and assured them that concerned authorities will look into the matter.
“Nagsulat sila sa amin at ‘yan ay pinag-aaralan namin. Hindi basta-basta puwede natin desisyunan outright (They wrote to us and we are studying the matter. We cannot make a decision outright),” he said in a press conference in Malacañang Wednesday.
“So mayroon kami mga sulat na natatanggap requesting for such considerations. pero wala pa desisyon na formal kung ano magiging action (We have received these letters requesting for such considerations but we don’t have a formal decision on what the action will be),” he added.
Airlines have reportedly requested that travel taxes and other fees paid by the companies be temporarily waived to attract more people to book flights despite the coronavirus scare.
Hundreds of flights have reportedly been canceled following the government’s travel ban on China and its territories as a precaution against the coronavirus. Airport authorities have already recorded a decline in international and domestic passenger volume in recent weeks following the travel ban imposed on China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Monreal recognized that the airlines have the right to make such a request, adding the government’s response will be forthcoming.
Asked if there was any negative reaction to the airlines’ request, Monreal said: “Hindi naman. Kahit naman tayo may karapatan na humingi ng consideration. Pag-aaralan namin ng mabuti para mabigyan ng kasagutan ang kanilang kahilingan (None. Even we have the right to ask for consideration. We will study the matter carefully so we can give a response to their request).”
For now, he said the government has encouraged airlines to mount domestic flights to attract more travelers to visit the country. He said airlines may also launch “substitute flights” after losing many flights over the travel restrictions to China and its territories.