Safety first as airports across the Philippines reopen

Cebu Pacific to introduce contactless boarding and PPE uniforms for crew

International repatriation flights can fly in and out of the Philippines again after a week-long closure of its major airports ended.

The suspension was put in place as the country's quarantine facilities became too congested to cope with the thousands of Filipino workers returning from overseas.

The ban has now been lifted, but some restrictions remain in place at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the capital.

International passenger flights can only land in Manila on specified days. Mondays and Thursdays are reserved for charter flights, and scheduled passenger flights can land any other day of the week.

Emirates announced plans to start daily repatriation flights from Dubai to Manila from Monday, May 11, but was waiting for government approval. It was now likely the Dubai airline will operate repatriation flights to the Filipino capital on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Etihad is also operating repatriation services from Abu Dhabi to the Philippines. The national airline of the UAE has nine flights scheduled to fly between Tuesday, May 12 and Friday, May 29.

epa08399356 AirAsia and Cebu Pacific airplanes are parked at a runway at Manila's international airport, Philippines, 04 May 2020, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. President Rodrigo Duterte  suspended flights as part of extended lockdown measures in the capital Metro Manila until 15 May, in an effort to stop the spread of the infectious disease.  EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

Other airlines were also resuming services to and from airports across the Philippines. Japan Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and China Airlines all have flights scheduled to land or depart from Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday, May 12.

Only returning residents and Philippine passport holders, foreign dignitaries and diplomats are allowed to enter the country on inbound commercial flights.

Contactless check-in with Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific, the Philippines largest national airline, is gearing up to restart passenger flights by introducing new safety measures.

These include contactless check-in and baggage drop at Manila airport and other airports across the Philippines. New procedures also involve human-contact free boarding for flights.

On-board, Cebu Pacific will keep middle seats empty where possible to promote social distancing. Travellers cannot switch seats once flights have departed and must dispose of their rubbish at the end of the flight.

PPE for flight crew and face masks for passengers

The low-cost airline has made face masks mandatory for travellers and has introduced PPE for staff members, both on ground and in the air.

Crew must wear PPE, face masks and gloves on every flight. They will also use disinfectant to clean the aisles and seats throughout the cabin before each departure.

Cebu Pacific joins other Filipino airlines in revealing new uniforms for flight crew. AirAsia Philippines recently operated a trial flight where crew wore designer protective suits, and Philippine Airlines has rolled out protective hazmat-style uniforms for cabin crew.

As travel restrictions look set to ease over the next few months, other airlines were preparing to return to the skies.

Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost airline, announced plans on May 12 that it will resume 40 per cent of its flight schedule from Wednesday, July 1.

The airline will also advise passengers to wear face masks and be prepared for temperature checks.