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Airlines move fast as Boracay island prepares to close

April 6, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The axe has fallen on Boracay, the most popular island in the Philippines, with confirmation that it will close for six months from 26 April 2018 – giving airlines and tour operators just three weeks to change their flight schedules and offer booked travellers new destinations or refunds. AirAsia has acted already.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed the closure of the country’s most famous tourist island yesterday, via a terse tweet issued by his presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

The threat has been hanging over the island for some weeks (see: Popular tourism island may close to clear pollution) but the extended duration of the closure, and the short notice, came as a shock to the industry.

The closure will pave the way for a major cleanup of Boracay, which strongman Duterte had previously called a “cesspool”.

Brief and to the point. How Philippines presidential spokesman Harry Roque tweeted the news of Borocay’s closure

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is reported to be scaling down its services to Caticlan and Kalibo airports. AirAsia, which also serves Boracay, made changes and cancellations yesterday. Cebu Pacific did so today. (see below).

Shocked reaction to Roque’s tweet confirming the island’s imminent closure was immediate.

Booked visitors were horrified. “What are the guidelines for our refund? Airfare, accommodations, tickets for the parties, and transfer via Southwest? Will the palace help those of us who have already booked everything since last year? I mean we are already paid. How can you help us?”

Another comment: “Will you be able to assist us on our refunds from hotel and airlines? We are coming all the way from England and spent a thousand pounds for this holiday to this island. Thanks.”

A Twitter user named Rica Velasco implored: “Sir you’re about to displace and remove income from over 30k people. I’m not even talking about just on the island.”

The Boracay everyone loves

 

Others in the Twitterspere treated the situation light heartedly.

“I’m more outraged that you called Boracay as ‘Bora’,” one observer quipped.

Another, in more serious vein, added: “Boracaynons for years have been campaigning to use the word Boracay and not Bora. This shows how well you know our island and how sincerely you listen to its people.”

The Philippines government wants to rehabilitate the island from what one report called “severe environmental degradation caused by wanton violation of building rules and regulations”.

Experts say overcrowding, garbage and water pollution are just some of the environmental issues facing Boracay, which is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines on the northern tip of central Panay island.

About 2 million visitors a year visit the island and the number is steadily rising. Or at least, the numbers were rising until now.

MEANWHILE, AIR ASIA confirmed yesterday it would change its flight schedule in line with the Philippine government order to temporarily close Boracay for rehabilitation from 26 April to 26 October 2018.

During this six-month period, AirAsia will make the following changes to its scheduled Caticlan (MPH) and Kalibo (KLO) flights:

Suspended Flights

Route Flight No Dom/Int Frequency Status
Manila-Kalibo-Manila Z2 709/710 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
Z2 711/712 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
Z2 715/716 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
 Manila-Caticlan-Manila Z2 221/222 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
Z2 223/224 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
Z2 225/226 Domestic 3x Daily Suspended
Clark-Kalibo-Clark Z2 100/101 Domestic 3x Weekly Suspended
Cebu-Caticlan-Cebu Z2 550/551 Domestic 1x Daily Suspended
Clark-Caticlan-Clark Z2 921/922 Domestic 1x Daily Suspended
Kalibo-Seoul Incheon-Kalibo Z2 36/37 International 2x Daily Suspended
Z2 38/39 International 2x Daily Suspended
Kalibo-Busan-Kalibo Z2 58/59 International 4x Weekly Suspended
Kalibo-Shanghai Pudong-Kalibo Z2 28/29 International 1x Daily Suspended

Flights with No Changes

Route Flight No Dom/Int Frequency Status
Manila-Kalibo-Manila Z2 713/714 Domestic 1x Daily Maintain
 Manila-Caticlan-Manila Z2 219/220 Domestic 1x Daily Maintain

AirAsia advised yesterday: Guests from Australia and New Zealand who are affected by the changes and hold flight bookings during this period will be notified via email and SMS.

In order not to disrupt our guests’ holiday plans, AirAsia will mount additional flights to popular leisure destinations Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and Davao in the Philippines.

AirAsia urges all guests to keep their email address and mobile number (with country code prefix) updated in their AirAsia member profile to ensure we can reach them for timely assistance.

Affected guests will be able to choose one from the following service recovery options:

  1. Change destination: Option to be accommodated on any flights operated by AirAsia Philippines (Carrier code Z2) at no extra cost, subject to seat availability, government mandated taxes, and fare difference on international flights; or
  2. Move flight date: Change to a new travel date on the same route without additional cost, subject to seat availability; or
  1. Credit account: Retain the value of fare in your AirAsia BIG Loyalty account for future travel with AirAsia. The online credit shell is valid for booking within 90 calendar days from the date of issue; or
  2. Full refund: Obtain a full refund to the amount equivalent to your original payment method.

Guests who wish to opt for move flight date / credit account are urged to complete an e-Form available at support.airasia.com:

  1. Click on the Email Us tab on the right panel
  2. Select Enquiry/Request under Type of Feedback
  3. Select Booking under Sub Category 1
  4. Select Change Flight for Sub Category 2
  5. Type in your option under Subject: “Boracay – Move Flight” OR “Boracay – Credit Account”
  6. Complete the remaining form fields and click Submit to proceed:
  7. For move flight, please provide new flight details (date and time) and passenger name(s)
  8. For credit account, please provide your AirAsia BIG Loyalty member ID

Guests who wish to request a full refund must complete the e-Form at support.airasia.com:

  1. Click on the Email Us tab on the right panel
  2. Select Refund under Type of Feedback
  3. Select Flight Cancellation under Sub Category 1
  4. Type in Subject field: “Boracay – Refund”
  5. Complete the remaining form fields and click Submit to proceed

For immediate assistance and additional information, please reach out to us via our call centres listed at support.airasia.com.

CEBU PACIFIC has also acted on the closure of Boracay Island for tourist activities. Cebu Pacific will cancel the following flights to and from Caticlan and Kalibo, in Aklan from April 26 to October 27, 2018:

 

            Route Flight Number Frequency
Manila-Caticlan-Manila 5J 891/892 Daily
5J 895/896
5J 899/900
5J 901/902
5J 905/906
DG 6241/6242
DG 6243/6244
DG 6247/6248
Cebu-Caticlan-Cebu 5J 132/133 Daily
Caticlan-Clark-Caticlan DG 6298/6299 Daily
Manila-Kalibo-Manila 5J 331/332 Daily
DG 6317/6318
Manila-Kalibo 5J 339 Sun-Thu
Kalibo-Cebu 5J 413 Daily
5J 415 Sun/Fri
Cebu-Kalibo-Cebu 5J 416/417 Sun
Clark-Kalibo 5J 351 Tue/Thu/Sat
Kalibo-Clark 5J 352 Mon/Wed/Fri
Cebu-Kalibo 5J 414

(Cancelled on April 25, 2018 only)

Kalibo-Incheon-Kalibo 5J 182/183

(Cancelled starting on June 1, 2018 until October 27, 2018)

Daily

 

To serve local residents and ensure continuity of commerce in Northern Panay island, Cebu Pacific will operate the following flights for Kalibo and Caticlan from April 26 until further notice:

 

            Route Flight Number Frequency ETD ETA
Manila-Kalibo 5J 337 Daily (except from May 1-4, 2018) 1225pm 135pm
Kalibo-Manila 5J 338 Daily (except from May 1-4, 2018) 205pm 320pm
Manila-Caticlan DG 6245 Daily 335pm 455pm
Caticlan-Manila DG 6246 Daily 825pm 940pm
Cebu-Caticlan DG 6272 Daily 655pm 800pm
Caticlan-Cebu DG 6273 Daily 515pm 625pm

 

Affected passengers may take any of the following options:

  • Get a full refund
  • Place the full value of the ticket in a travel fund for future use
  • Rebook the flight, subject to seat availability
  • Reroute to any domestic destination, subject to seat availability

CEB encourages passengers to manage their rebooking or refunds through the “Manage Booking” section in the Cebu Pacific website, www.cebupacificair.com

Cebu Pacific is in the process of informing passengers affected by the flight cancellations. Affected passengers may manage their rebooking or refunds via the “Manage Booking” section in the CEB website, www.cebupacificair.com.

Guests who booked through a travel agent or any other third party are encouraged to provide us with their own contact details so they are directly advised about any flight changes.

For any other concerns, passengers may also message the official Cebu Pacific Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cebupacificair) or Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) accounts. They may also try the CEB hotline at +65-315-80808, however due to the heavy volume of calls, the fastest way to rebook or refund affected flights is via the ”Manage Booking” section in the Cebu Pacific website.

 

Written by Peter Needham

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