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PAL, CebuPac cut down flights ahead Boracay Island shutdown

A number of domestic budget airlines, including Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL), are adjusting their flight operations after the announcement of Boracay’s closure starting on April 26.

Edz Clarkson

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Philippine Airline Cebu Pacific Boracay Caliclan Kalibo

The Philippine government’s resolution to close the popular tourist destination Boracay for about six months to make it more environment friendly has decided domestic airline carriers to reduce flights to the aforementioned island.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the closure of the popular tourist destination of Boracay for up to six months after saying the waters off its famed white-sand beaches had become a “cesspool” due to overcrowding and real estate development.

Gokongwei-led budget airline carrier, Cebu Pacific, the dominant domestic airline in the country, has said it would cancel 14 daily round-trip flights to Caticlan and Kalibo, the two primary gateways to Boracay island, from April 26 to Oct. 25.

Meanwhile, the flag carrier — Philippine Airlines (PAL) — said it would cut down flights to the recently mentioned airports and will add flights to other summer destinations.

Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific offered their valued customers a full refunds or flights elsewhere, and said they would still operate a limited number of flights to Caticlan and Kalibo airports to serve residents.

Domestic airlines offer around 1.2 million seats from Boracay’s Caticlan airport annually, nearly three-quarters from Manila, according to the data from Aviation Consultants.

“Cebu Pacific with some 323,000 odd seats a year from the island would be the largest carrier disrupted,” said John Grant, director of JG Aviation Consultants.

“This is not about profit, it’s about the political will to deal with years of neglect of the environment,” Alegre said. “We need to act swiftly to save the island and avert its further deterioration.”

More than 2 million of local and foreign tourists visited the Boracay island last year to enjoy its powdery white-sand beaches, spectacular sunsets and festive nightlife, generating about $1 billion in revenue. But the stream of tourists, neglected infrastructure developments and growth of resort establishments and poor settlements have threatened to turn Boracay into a “dead island” in less than a decade, according to a government research study.

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