Iloilo gov asks Cebu Pacific to suspend flights from HK amid coronavirus threat

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Iloilo’s provincial governor asked Cebu Pacific Airlines to temporarily stop flights from Hong Kong to the Iloilo International Airport amid a novel coronavirus outbreak, which originated from Wuhan City in China.

The letter, signed by Governor Arthur Defensor Jr on Thursday, January 30, was addressed to the airline's operations manager Leah Vallido.

The letter asked for Cebu Pacific’s “voluntary” cessation of international flights. 

Cebu Pacific has a daily flight from Iloilo to Hong Kong and vice versa.

The Iloilo International Airport sees around 1.2 million passengers pass through annually. 

The request comes on the day the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first coronavirus case in the Philippines. The patient, a woman from Wuhan, China, traveled to the Philippines via Hong Kong to Cebu and Dumaguete, before going to Manila.

Earlier on Thursday, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced that passengers arriving from mainland China would be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to travel. (READ: Cebu to quarantine passengers from mainland China for 14 days)

On January 28, the Bureau of Immigration temporarily suspended visa-upon-arrival privileges for Chinese visitors.

Passengers whose flights have been suspended due to the novel coronavirus outbreak can check their airlines for rebooking or refund policies.

While local governments and airlines have been taking their own measures, the national government has not banned travel between the two countries. –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.