Philippines Sets Vaccination Mandate For Unrestricted Air Travel

From January 17, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to use public transportation to, from and within the National Capital Region of the Philippines. Although there are exceptions to this policy provided, the blanket policy will apply to air travel as well, which appears to cover a large portion of flights given that Manila is the largest air hub in the country. Let’s take a look at politics and how airlines interact in the country.

If the new directive prevents passengers from traveling, and the ticket was purchased before January 17, 2022 for travel between January 17 to January 31, Philippine Airlines will allow booking changes or refunds. Philippine Airlines Photo: Airbus

Vaccination mandate for all public transport

The Philippine Department of Transportation recently issued Department Order 2022-001, which states that only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to use public transportation to, from and within the NCR – or National Capital Region. Also referred to as “Metro Manila”, the National Capital Region includes the main city of Manila but also extends to the urban areas north and south of the capital.

With the January 11 announcement, the government did not give those affected much time to prepare. Entered into full force by Monday, January 17, was six days of advance notice “To give a little leeway and let people get ready,” Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Artemio Toazon Jr., said in a statement.

“this is [Department Order] It should cover public transportation for individuals who reside outside of NCR but work and/or travel to the same location,” Department Order No. 001-2022

It only applies to the NCR region of the Philippines. Photo: Getty Images

The DOT allowed two major exceptions to commissioning:

  • People with medical conditions that preclude full vaccination for COVID-19 “As evidenced by a duly signed medical certificate with the name and contact details of the physician.”
  • Individuals who purchase essential goods and services such as food, water, and medicine “As evidenced by a duly issued health passport or other appropriate evidence to support and justify such travel.”

Philippine Airlines will allow passengers to rebook

The carrier, Philippine Airlines, says it is only allowed to accept fully vaccinated passengers for transport on its domestic flights to and from Manila from January 17. This distinction between domestic and international flights becomes a bit confusing when you consider the fact that NCR is the primary gateway for flights in and out of the country.

At the same time, the language included in the government order makes no distinction between domestic or international flights — only that it applies to travel to, from, and within the NCR. Given this language, we must assume that flights in and out of the capital’s Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport will require proof of vaccination.

This point will become moot as the airline states on its website that proof of full vaccination should be a requirement to enter all foreign nationals allowed to enter the Philippines as of February 16.

Giving some flexibility to travelers who have been negatively affected by the new policy, the airline states that travelers have the following options if they purchase a ticket before January 17 for travel between January 17 and January 31. “Your ticket is secure and remains valid, and you can take advantage of the following options:”

  1. Convert your ticket into Travel Credits equivalent to the unused base fare of your ticket. The voucher is valid for one (1) year from the date of issue.
  2. Rebook or redirect your ticket to another flight with available space within 60 days of the original flight in the same cabin class.
  3. Ticket refund without penalties, excluding ticket service fees.
Philippine Airlines Airbus A350
Philippine Airlines is the main long-haul carrier in the country. Photo: Airbus

AirAsia publicly declares its compliance

In response to the new government’s policy, AirAsia Philippines noted in a statement He will abide and implement Ministry Order No. 2022-001 issued by the Ministry of Transport.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, AirAsia has always been working closely with [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases]And [Department of Transportation] and its affiliated agencies along with medical experts in implementing multi-layered approaches to safety in the aviation sector,”-Ricky Isla, CEO of AirAsia Philippines

A320_1 Air Asia
AirAsia Philippines publicly endorsed the authorization in a statement on its website. Photo: AirAsia

The budget airline’s statement also draws attention to the exemptions provided for in the mandate. AirAsia Philippines confirms that non-vaccinated guests with medical exemptions or essential travel from Metro Manila will still be allowed to travel, “Provided that they provide a duly signed medical certificate with the name and contact details of their physician.”

What do you think of this new mandate? Will you be affected by it? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

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