Filipino airlines cut China flights; China suspends flights to Boracay gateway

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2020 10:39 AM

MANILA - Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, the country's two largest carriers, said Friday they reduced flights to China in response to a new coronavirus outbreak.

Chinese carriers, on the other hand suspended flights to Aklan, home to holiday island Boracay, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesman Eric Apolonio said.

Cebu Pacific said it would reduce flights between the Philippines, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau from Feb. 5 to March 29.

Philippine Airlines said Thursday it suspended flights between Kalibo and China's Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

Nanjing is some 600 kilometers northeast of Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 200 and infected nearly 10,000.

Shanghai has some 100 cases of the virus while Nanjing is checking the passengers of a flight who showed symptoms of the disease, according to news reports.

Philippine Airlines said it would maintain flights between Manila and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Jinjiang, Xiamen, Hong Kong and Macau.

Passengers can check the status of their flights on the Cebu Pacific website, said the Philippines' largest carrier. 

Aklan's Kalibo International Airport hosts flights to 21 destinations, 18 of which are Chinese cities, he said.

"Kahapon nagkusa po iyong Chinese carriers na i-inform ang ating airport authorities sa Kalibo na starting yesterday hanggang bukas, wala na silang magiging flights patungong Kalibo," he told radio DZMM.

(On Thursday, Chinese carriers informed our airport authorities in Kalibo that starting yesterday or Friday, they will no longer have flights heading there.) 

President Rorigo Duterte on Friday ordered a ban on travelers from China's Hubei province, which includes Wuhan, a day after the health department confirmed the first case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) said late Thursday that it was declaring the outbreak a global emergency, as cases spread to at least 18 countries.