By Corina Oliquino
MANILA — Safe Travel Barometer named flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) as one of the top 10 safest airlines in terms of health and safety measures in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PAL’s Safe Travel Score of 4.2 out of five was tied with China Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, AirAsia Malaysia and UAE’s Emirates.
Over 150 airlines were rated for their pre-flight, actual flight and post-flight stages and given a rating for COVID-19 related hygiene and safety measures they announced to passengers and crew.
Germany’s Lufthansa topped the list with a Safe Travel Score of 4.5, followed by India’s Vistara, Delta Airlines and Allegiant Air, all of which had a score of 4.4.
The US’ Alaska Airlines also made it to the top 10 with a score of 4.1 while the Philippines’ budget carrier Cebu Pacific managed to post a relatively high score of 1.2 despite not making it to the top 10.
The Safe Travel Score, an industry-first rating initiative based on an independent audit of over 150 airlines and 20 parameters, also includes COVID-19 related hygiene and safety measures announced by airlines for travelers and crew.
“The fundamental premise of Safe Travel Score is to benchmark travel brands’ initiatives to reduce traveler anxiety. Our independent rating centered on traveler health and safety measures establishes a baseline for travel brands, while equally offering travelers a glimpse into what they can expect in their journeys,” Safe Travel co-founder and CEO Virendra Jain said.
In a report by The Philippine Star, PAL implemented the Fly Safe program as part of its strict safety protocols and measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 by ordering cabin crew in flight to wear full personal protective equipment and undergo a medical evaluation prior to duty, while the aircraft undergoes a thorough and intensified disinfection before flight.
Last month, PAL and PAL Express offered distancing seats to provide peace of mind to its passengers but assured existing safety measures, including the use of advanced cabin air systems which can “continuously infuse clean air across the cabin and High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters that remove viruses, bacteria and other contaminants with 99.99 percent efficiency,” are adequate to protect passengers inflight.
The flag carrier also set up a one-stop shop center at Terminal 2 for RT PCR swab testing for returning OFWs and authorized foreign nationals to boost the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) capacity to screen and process quarantine requirements for passengers.
Since June, PAL resumed limited operations on limited routes in the US, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Canada while also mounting all-cargo and special repatriation flights.
PH tourism recovery in 2021
In another report by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the Philippine Tourism Survey: Covid-19 Edition conducted by Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines (PwC) released last July found 63 percent of tourism players remain optimistic their businesses will return to normal within six months to over a year.
According to the survey, 88 percent of respondents expect losses of over 50 percent of their 2020 revenues due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) while 97 percent claim the coronavirus “has the potential for significant impact” on their business operations.
The survey is PwC’s collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT) as part of its commitment to support the DOT’s programs and initiatives.
DOT Sec. Bernadette Romulo–Puyat assured her Department can sustain Tourism businesses through “proper financial support and policies, which are covered in the DOT’s Tourism Response and Recovery Program”.
“We are working towards the establishment of proper infrastructure and enhanced health and sanitation protocols in line with the standards of New Normal. Our goal is to build a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive tourism industry,” she said.
In 2019, the Tourism sector became one of the major industries in the country contributing 12.7 percent of the country’s GDP which represents a direct contribution of ₱2.8 trillion to the Philippine economy while providing 5.71 million jobs to Filipinos or 13.5 o percent of the total local employment.