Philippine Airlines suspends all flights

MANILA, Philippines – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is suspending all flight operations starting Thursday, March 26, as it grapples with the worldwide effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, March 24, PAL said all international flights will be temporarily halted starting Thursday, following the suspension of all domestic flights since March 17.

"Our firm goal is to resume operations starting April 15, if warranted by Philippine and international authorities, global public health conditions, and the travel environment," PAL said.

According to the flag carrier, it can no longer sustain "even a limited number of international flights" due to strict travel restrictions imposed by more countries, the collapse in travel demand, and staffing challenges in Manila due to the Luzon lockdown.

The last flight to depart Manila will be PR104 bound for San Francisco on Wednesday, March 25, at 10:10 pm.

PAL said flights will still continue to arrive in Manila on Thursday from Los Angeles, Tokyo, Narita, and Jakarta; and on Friday, March 27, from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

As PAL joined Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines in temporarily halting flights, there are now no local airlines available to fly Filipinos to their destinations.

"We shall now turn our attention to the task of conserving our resources in anticipation of the recovery and caring for the needs of our PAL team members, while we keep our fleet ready for the day that we resume flying," the flag carrier said.

"We shall continue to make aircraft and service personnel available for special flights to retrieve stranded passengers as well as cargo flights to keep intact critical supply chains across our islands," it added. (READ: Travel restrictions leave over 4,000 tourists stranded in PH)

PAL asked the public to monitor its website and social media accounts for updates.

"We understand that this pause in operations will be an inconvenience, and we hope for your understanding as we at PAL look to the safety of our colleagues and our families as we all face this global contagion," the airline said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Philippines has 552 coronavirus cases, with the death toll at 35. The number of cases worldwide has risen to more than 377,000, with over 16,200 deaths.

The virus has already spread to 175 countries. Some 1.7 billion people have been told to stay home across the globe. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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