It is soon to come to two weeks since the mandatory closure of the resort island of Boracay in the Visayas was enacted to facilitate its environmental rehabilitation. Already plenty of stomach-turning horrors have been literally unearthed by cleanup crews under the famous white sands of the island, bringing to light some very unsavory practices by certain Boracay businesses catering to the tourism industry. In the meantime, travel to and from the island is regimented, and in response to the tourist drop-off, airlines have begun cutting down flights to destinations connecting to Boracay. And these re-schedules are still in flux.
CNN Philippines reports that national flag-carrier Philippine Airlines has announced that they will be further reducing passenger aircraft flights connecting Manila to Caticlan Airport in Malay, Aklan, one of the two major points of departure for Boracay (the other being Kalibo). A statement by Cielo Villaluna from PAL notes that the Manila-Caticlan flights will be running four times a week until May 15; on the following day this will be temporarily suspended for the remaining duration of the Boracay shutdown, not resuming operations until around October 26. This effectively cuts off Caticlan airport from all PAL air traffic until then.
“The adjusted flight frequency is in support of the government’s decision to temporarily close or limit access to Boracay for urgent major environmental rehabilitation of the island,” said spokesperson Villaluna on the statement. At this juncture, the only flights that PAL maintains on the Boracay air circuit are the daily ones between Manila and Kalibo, Aklan. This is to at least retain one air travel route remains open to local residents in the area, as well as to shuttle members of the multi-agency government rehabilitation team as well as civilian volunteers between the Boracay staging ground and the nation’s capital.
All these modifications to the country’s air routes comes back to a decision made back in April by the Cabinet, to shut down all accommodations, businesses and tourism infrastructure in Boracay for six months in order to facilitate a drastic environmental rehabilitation program in accordance with directives given by President Rodrigo Duterte. Boracay has been closed since April 26, with closely monitored travel by the island’s inhabitants. To make up for the loss of regular tourist travel to the primary Philippine resort destination, PAL added more flights to the following destinations out of Manila: Cebu, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa and Bacolod.
Any affected PAL passengers who booked on the Manila-Caticlan flights after May 16 may rebook their tickets, reroute to another destination, or have them refunded. They may visit their nearest PAL ticketing office for inquiries, log onto http://www.philippineairlines.com, or call the PAL Hotline at this number: (+632) (02) 855–8888.