Disruptions had stranded passengers and caused several cancellations on the Dubai-Manila route
The majority of Filipino expatriates in the United Arab Emirates travel home for the holidays despite the introduction of new restrictive travel policies and the havoc caused by Typhoon Rai.
Airline and travel agent representatives have said December is a busy season for expatriates to travel to the Philippines. Much of the overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) travel home to celebrate Christmas and New Years with loved ones.
While the demand for travel to the island country was expected to decline due to the aftermath of Typhoon Rai and new restrictive travel measures by the local government, numerous Filipino expatriates are heading home for the holidays.
New travel updates
With effect from December 23rd up to and including January 3rd, 2022, only Cebuano OFWs and returning Filipinos are allowed to enter Cebu as directed by the local authorities in the Philippines. Emirates has posted the updated directions on its website. No other nationality may travel on these flights.
The decision by the provincial government of Cebu was in response to the high hotel occupancy due to local bookings from residents who still do not have access to electricity and water after the onslaught of Typhoon Rai.
According to the latest travel updates from the Inter-Agency Task Force – Philippines (IATF), all fully vaccinated OFW comers in the Philippines must undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for three days before their RT-PCR results are received.
“You must undergo quarantine at home until your 10th day, with the arrival date being the first day,” said the IATF.
Disruptions caused cancellations and stranded passengers
The recent disruptions resulted in multiple flight cancellations between Dubai and Manila, a Philippine Airlines (PAL) representative told the Khaleej Times. The airline spokesman said: â€œOn December 17th and 19th there were two PAL flight cancellations. It could have been due to the Typhon, and there is also a lack of quarantine hotels in Manila, for example. The demand for hotel rooms from domestic tourists is enormous, which leads to a shortage. “
Regarding the updates for Cebuano OFWs, the PIA official said, â€œDue to the current situation in Cebu, the local government has issued a memorandum that only residents are allowed to enter Cebu. We have a scheduled flight on Sunday. However, we are awaiting a final decision by PAL management and the local government on the status of the flight. â€At the time of going to press, no updates on PAL flight status were made available to the Khaleej Times.
Cebu Airport also suffered some damage. â€œThe problem is that there are not enough quarantine facilities available for hotels, as many locals affected by the typhoon stay in hotels. There might be no availability for international arrivals, â€she added.
“Last week, many transit passengers from Saudi Arabia and some passengers from the United Arab Emirates were stranded due to the disruption in Dubai,” said Malou Prado, chief executive officer of MPQ Travel and Tourism.
She added, â€œHowever, all of these problems have been resolved. Some who were supposed to fly out last week will have to fly home in the coming weeks. They are not allowed to celebrate Christmas with their families because they are in quarantine. However, they are looking forward to the New Year celebrations. “
Filipino expatriates will not be put off
Viervelyn Revira Gines, a nanny based in Abu Dhabi, has booked tickets to Manila for the night of Thursday, December 23rd. Speaking to the Khaleej Times before her trip, she said: â€œThis is my first trip home in four years. I am fully vaccinated, so I only have to undergo institutional quarantine for a few days. “
â€œI am so happy to go home and see my family. My place was not so badly affected by the typhoon. “
Another expatriate, Marvin Balita, a fitness trainer, said, â€œChristmas is an important time for the Philippines. It’s been two years since I’ve seen my family. I don’t want to miss it this year either. “
â€œMany Filipinos travel over Christmas and New Years. The flights are full of passengers, not just from the UAE. But many transit passengers from Saudi Arabia and Jordan also want to travel. Quarantine is not an issue for travelers. â€Prado also said the demand for travel this year is relatively lower than last year.