Airlines cut flights

MANILA – A decision by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to shut the holiday hotspot of Boracay, which he has called a “cesspool”, prompted airlines to cut flights on Thursday, as hotels prepared for cancellations and businesses appeared resigned to a move the government said was non-negotiable.

Mr Duterte late on Wednesday ordered the closure of Boracay for six months from April 26 in a bid to rescue from ruin a once idyllic island that drew two million tourists and generated over a billion dollars in revenue last year.

Domestic airlines offered customers full refunds or flights elsewhere, but said they would still operate a limited number of flights to Boracay’s gateways, Caticlan and Kalibo, to serve residents, which number about 50,000.

Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia Philippines said they would scale down services to the two airports from April 26 to October 25, and add more to other popular beach and dive destinations, including Cebu, Palawan and Bohol.

Cebu Pacific, the dominant domestic carrier, said it cancelled 14 daily round-trip flights and anticipated a loss of $3 million to $5 million over the six months.

The government this week estimated the closure could shave 0.1 per cent off 2018 GDP.