The Dilemma of Airfreight Operations in the Philippines
September 18, 2020
Even when the signs of the spread of COVID-19 have been observed since late January 2020, the Philippines did not impose any travel restriction until mid-March but when it did, it was severe and unyielding especially for the first few months. This strict implementation has caused many industries, including air freight to suffer. In just the airline industry alone, many employees of different airlines have been retrenched due to flight bans. In the air freight industry, 29% of international air cargo capacity declined compared to the year previous.
While air freight in the Philippines is a much needed industry for cost-efficient transportation of necessity, it stands against measure like travel bans. While there are no short supply of air freight service providers, their ability to operate is impeded. Of the few international airports in the country, the three main airports of every main island aren’t operating to full capacity. Davao and Cebu airports have strict restrictions imposed because of recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Manila International Airport is operational at but also at very strict LGU restriction. While where are many obstacles regarding airports in the country, another issue are strict restrictions of airports outside the country as well as international airlines that stopped sending flights to the Philippines.
The dilemma and even irony stems from how, with the diminished capacity to supply the service, the demand is ever as its highest. Government regulations aren’t very specific on restrictions on commercial flight versus air freight which might be why they are categorically both affected in the same way albeit being functionally different. Air freight in the Philippines would benefit a lot from more flexible regulations when it comes to inbound and outbound flights.
While travel bans do make sense in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, flight bans aren’t the be-all, end-all solution to the pandemic. If anything, too strict of bans on the airfreight industry in the Philippines might even worsen the pandemic because of the limited ways to get much needed necessities as well as medical and civilian COVID protective supplies to desired destinations.