AIRLINES are beefing up their operations in anticipation of the surge of passengers going home this Christmas.

To stimulate growth in travel during this last quarter, AirAsia Philippines said it will double and triple its current weekly flight frequencies to most destinations such as Caticlan, Iloilo, Tacloban, Bacolod, Tagbilaran, Puerto Princesa, Kalibo and Cebu.

Meanwhile, it said it will retain its strong presence in Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga and General Santos.

AirAsia Philippines also announced it will also return to the skies of Hong Kong and Singapore this December to service overseas Filipino workers in these bustling cities who will be returning to the Philippines for the holidays.

“We support the appeal of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines to increase the daily cap for foreign arrivals from 4,000 to 10,000 to complement the pent-up demand during the holidays. While there have been significant improvements in terms of travel restrictions, there is no room for complacency when it comes to observing the strictest health and safety protocols on ground and in flight,” said AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Ricky Isla in a statement.

Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific, on the other hand, added more flights to key domestic destinations, namely Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos, following the easing of travel restrictions.

The airline will increase its Manila-Boracay-Manila flights from six to nine times daily starting Nov. 22, operating more than its pre-Covid capacity to the island. By next month, Boracay flights from Cebu will be up to six times weekly.

Flights between Bohol and Manila will also increase from 12 times weekly to twice daily starting Nov. 23.

By December, operations between Cebu and Manila will increase from six times daily to nine times daily, while flights to Cagayan de Oro will ramp up from five times daily to up to six times daily.

Manila to Davao flights will go up to three times daily from five times weekly in December. Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific now flies to General Santos daily.

“We continue to ramp up our domestic network to address rising travel demand and promote safe and responsible travel. This way we enable the public in rebuilding trust and travel confidence, at the same time pave the way towards economic recovery,” said Xander Lao, chief commercial officer at Cebu Pacific in a statement.

International destinations

Moreover, Philippine Airlines has also resumed almost all of its domestic routes utilizing the gateways of Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Bohol, Davao and Zamboanga.

Recently, the airline also announced it added 12 more international destinations on its network such as Jakarta, Hong Kong, mainland China, Tokyo Haneda, Tokyo Narita, Fukuoka, Osaka Kansai, Nagoya, Dammam, Riyadh, Taipei and Dubai.

PAL said it operates an average of 120 flights per day, representing 40 percent of its pre-pandemic regular flight frequencies.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat on Nov. 19 said the country will welcome international tourists soon.

Upon the agency’s request, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) “has approved in principle the entry of fully vaccinated tourists from Green List countries/territories/jurisdictions,” following the guidelines as may be finalized and approved by the IATF-MEID.

Puyat said a special technical working group on travel has been tasked to promptly come up with the guidelines for final approval of the IATF.


Puyat said the proposal to open leisure travel from “green countries,” or those classified by the Department of Health as low-risk countries, will be based on strict conditions.

Only fully vaccinated individuals with vaccines recognized by the country’s Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization or those authorized by the World Health Organization will be allowed entry to the country.

“Our Association of Southeast Asian Nations neighbors like Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia also did the same. We believe that it is also time for us to reopen our borders for inbound tourism as a way towards full recovery,” Puyat said.