CAB suspends flights from Wuhan, China amid coronavirus outbreak

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has resolved to indifinitely suspend all airline operations from Wuhan in China, to any point in the Philippines and vice versa as a precautionary measure amid the threat of the novel coronavirus.
SERIOUS THREAT. Wuhan is now isolated as Chinese authorities announced a lock down. Photo by Maverick Manalang.
The decision was made by the CAB in a special board meeting held on Thursday, 23 Jan. 2020 at 3 p.m.

The CAB said the order to suspend airline operations will be without prejudice to the flights to be made by Royal Air Charter Services on January 24 and 27, 2020 as well as that of Pan Pacific Air on January 23 and 25, 2020 for the sole purpose of ferrying their charter passengers back to Wuhan. 

"Provided, that no passengers shall be carried from its return flight from Wuhan to the Philippines and, provided further, that both airline shall exercise extraordinary vigilance in ensuring the health and safety of its passengers and crews," the CAB said.

As an additional precautionary measure, the CAB has also ordered all airlines operating in the country to monitor events that will take place in other cities which may be affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"All air carriers are directed  to closely monitor the events that might transpire from other cities which may be affected by the coronavirus and shall take necessary precautions in ensuring that the health and safety of passengers are not jeopardized," the CAB said.

In his report to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said that the move aims to prevent the possible further spread and transmission of the novel coronavirus.

According to Arcilla, two Philippine carriers currently operate regular charter services between Wuhan and Kalibo in Aklan province.

"Wuhan is the center of the outbreak and the probability of transmission to our country is made highly possible because of the direct flights between Wuhan and Kalibo," said Arcilla.

Arcilla noted that Scoot Airlines from Singapore and China Airlines of Taiwan, have also suspended their regular flights to Wuhan.

Arcilla has also assured that the CAB will continue to monitor the unfolding novel coronavirus situation.

"The Board will continue to monitor the developments in other Chinese cities as the viral outbreak unfolds, and will continue to coordinate with the Department of Health, CAAP and MIAA for guidance as to further courses of action," he said. 

For his part, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said that everything must be done so as not to compromise public safety. 

“When it come to public safety, it is always better to be overly protective than to fall short on measures and eventually regret it. We have to address it quickly and we have to do it right,” Sec. Tugade said.

Official press release from the Department of Transportation (DOTr)