By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
In order to help cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the aviation sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) are deferring payment for take-off, landing, and parking fees of local airlines by at least one year, until the health crisis ends.
“Let it not be said that we did not do a thing,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade remarked in this week’s briefing. “We are in a situation that is not of our own liking nor of our own making. There is an emergency. Can the government not do things that can assuage the emergency? We need to extend our arm to all.”
The COVID-19 crisis, which was almost without precedent, has been estimated to bleed the global aviation industry of $63 billion to $113 billion in terms of revenues.
“CAAP is deferring payment on parking and landing while there is a threat of COVID-19,” confirmed CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco.
Local airlines operating in MIAA, and under CAAP, are covered by the deferment order.
Deferred charges for local carriers total about P58-million a month, noted MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal.
Local airlines operating under CAAP will save ₱37-million a month in terms of deferred take-off, landing, and parking fees. The airlines will pay the deferred charges once the COVID-19 threat in the country is lifted.
MIAA will also implement a scheme to help the recovery of the airline industry. The deferment can last for a year or more, he clarified.
Aside from the deferment of fees, the aviation and airports sector is also encouraging airlines to help boost local tourism.
For its part, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) will be encouraging airlines to service local destinations to promote local tourism and “at least cut the losses of the airlines,” says Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla.
Meanwhile, NAIA is being sanitized and disinfected round the clock, according to GM Monreal.
“Every 30-minutes we clean up the airport and we added thermal scanners at the domestic airport,” he added.
The DOTr has taken a holistic approach in disinfecting all transportation hubs in the country, noted Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Reinier Paul Yebra.
For the maritime sector, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has given its directives to ports under its jurisdiction to coordinate with quarantine offices and strictly implement passenger screening at arrival areas.
PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said that stringent security measures have been in place especially in areas frequently visited by tourists. Face masks and sanitizers are being distributed to frontline employees.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) likewise advised all medical units in its 13 Coast Guard Districts to be on high alert to block the possible spread of COVID-19.
For the road sector, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), through Memorandum Circular (MC) 2020-005 has mandated all public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and conductors to wear face masks at all times while on duty, and for all franchise holders to ensure compliance.
All terminals have been ensuring proper sanitation and cleanliness in their premises, and have been providing face masks as well as disinfectants or sanitizers for their passengers.
The railways sector, on the other hand, has instructed its station and security frontline personnel to wear appropriate face masks, and ensure that hand sanitizers and soaps are available for use in restrooms as well as in other strategic areas inside stations.
Train interiors and station premises, specifically those that are frequently touched by commuters, are being disinfected on a regular basis.
Periodic announcements of reminders for preventive actions that could help prevent transmission of the virus are being projected in strategic locations.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a State of Public Health Emergency this Sunday, March 8, 2020, following confirmation by the Department of Health of a 10th COVID-19 case in the Philippines.
Under the declaration, all government agencies and local government units are enjoined to render full assistance and cooperation in the mobilization of necessary resources to contain the COVID-19 threat.