Flight cancellations from HK, China balloon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2010 08:50 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2010 08:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Flag carrier Philippine Airlines reported Tuesday that the number of booking cancellations from Hong Kong and China continues to balloon following the deadly hostage drama in Manila last week.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said, however, that they are working closely with the government to lure back foreign tourists in the country.

"PAL management is assessing the situation to determine if it is appropriate to entice Hong Kong nationals to fly into the country at this time considering emotions are still high. We are working closely with DOT (Department of Toursim) on how to put the Philippines back on the tourism map," he said.

As of Friday, August 27, 1,100 tourists from Hong Kong and other parts of China have cancelled their flight bookings with PAL. The number was double the 558 cancellations PAL reported as of Wednesday.

The cancellations were made after the Hong Kong and Chinese governments warned their citizens against travelling to the Philippines following Monday's 11-hour hostage-taking, which ended in the death of 8 Hong Kong tourists.

PAL president Jaime Bautista earlier said the airline might reduce its 5 daily flights to and from Hong Kong if booking cancellations continued.

But he noted they were hoping that "fears of travelling to the Philippines will be temporary."

PAL has yet to determine the impact of the booking cancellations on its bottom line.

The airline is currently engaged in a dispute with its employees. It was forced to cut domestic flights because of the recent mass resignation of its pilots.