MANILA - An industry group representing the country's largest airlines on Tuesday appealed for government aid under a bill aiming to stimulate economic activity following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) said COVID-19 as well as the measures implemented to control it, had a "catastrophic" impact on the aviation industry.
ACAP said it is appealing for long term credit facility, working capital credit lines, credit guarantee arrangements, and temporary relief from navigational and airport charges under the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) bill.
Roberto Lim, ACAP executive director and vice chairman, said the group is not asking for a bail-out or dole-out from the government.
"What we are asking for is a hand-up to help airlines recover. The liquidity problems faced by the Philippine aviation industry are very similar to the challenges that airlines all over the world are dealing with,” Lim said.
ACAP's members include AirAsia Philippines, Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Philippine Airlines and PAL Express.
The group however said that the aviation industry is composed of not just of airlines, but also catering companies, food-related enterprises, manufacturing firms, manpower agencies, and other allied and support service providers—majority of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
ACAP said the entire industry generates over 543,000 direct and indirect jobs and is intertwined with the travel and tourism industry, as well as with the logistics industry.
Airlines are now ready to resume passenger commercial flights, with stricter safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, ACAP added.
“While details may vary among individual members of ACAP, the new normal for flights will include minimized contact between passengers and the airline staff, increased utilization of online and digital processes for check-in and boarding, intensified cleaning and disinfection of all aircraft and facilities, among others,” Lim said.