PCCI calls for easing of business travel restrictions; cites impact on SMEs

02 July 2020 – The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest umbrella business organization in the country is lending its support to the appeal of airlines operators to ease international business travel restrictions and allow selected local air travel.


In a statement today, PCCI urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Cabinet Economic Cluster to heed the petition of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) to gradually phase out the quota for international passenger arrival, resume scheduled international flights for business travel, allow selected local air travel, explore the possibility of entering into bilateral arrangements with selected countries to fast track processing of non-leisure travels, and re-open select tourist destinations in the country to international tourism.


In explaining their support, PCCI President, Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico said, “A status quo could prove fatal not only to the airline operators but to airline suppliers and the whole air transport supply reliant on continuing to deliver new equipment and supplying spare parts and maintenance services, as well as enterprises, a number of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that provision each flight – manufacturers and/or suppliers of food products, cutlery, sanitary paper, water, blankets, cleaning and maintenance services, etc.  These SME suppliers of goods and services are dependent on the operation of the aircrafts to remain in business.”


Yujuico said it may be instructive for the IATF to ease restrictions on business travelers subject to health, safety and documentary protocols and other considerations.


“We understand a sufficient number of testing and quarantine facilities have been set up in international airports.  At the same time, the IATF-EID is also looking at allowing passengers to take their COVID-19 test abroad one to two days before their departure.  As an active member of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), PCCI can assist in the proposal to secure a letter of invitation to establish the nature of travel of business people,” Yujuico explained.


To support the continued operation of local airlines, PCCI endorsed the proposal of ACAP for the IATF-EID to extend a preferential policy for Philippine carriers undertaking direct or connecting flights in international airports in the country in the allocation of quota for non-leisure travelers.


“This Philippine air carriers-first allocation should be extended to foreign business travelers once restriction on business travel is lifted,” Yujuico added.


Yujuico pointed out that in considering health and safety in the resumption of economic activities, it is in the aviation industry that the implementation and monitoring of protocols is simplest and most straightforward simply because the movement of travelers and even workers is easy to monitor – from the purchase of tickets to the passengers’ entry into airports, embarkation and disembarkation from the aircraft to leaving the airport.


The aviation industry is among the hardest hit by the more than three months of various stages of community quarantines declared all over the country.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated the combined losses of Philippine carriers and tourism at US$ 4.48-Bn, with job losses potentially reaching 548,300 this year alone.  As of this writing, the Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines have laid off an estimated 760 workers, a figure that reflects only those that are directly working with these airlines.