Dubai: Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) will have a special commercial flight on Friday, July 30, “in response to the government’s call for assistance to repatriate Filipino workers in Dubai”, the airline confirmed to Gulf News on Monday.
CEB earlier announced that it had cancelled all its commercial flights to and from Dubai until August 1, following the decision by the Philippine government to “extend the ban on travellers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the UAE” until July 30. New passengers and those affected by previous flight cancellations who would like to take the 5J27 Dubai-Manila special flight on July 30, dubbed as Bayanihan flight, may book their tickets on Cebu Pacific website, though seats are subject to availability.
CEB noted: “Pursuant to current Philippine health protocols, a passenger who would like to take the Bayanihan flight must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR result, taken within 48 hours before departure.” Face masks and face shields should always be worn (except during meals) while on board the aircraft, as an added precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Pursuant to government’s health protocols, all passengers will be subjected to a 14-day, facility-based quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines. For this purpose, passengers are advised to have pre-booked quarantine hotels for 15 days/14 nights,” CEB added.
The cost of quarantine hotels for OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will be paid for by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); while tourist and returning overseas Filipinos will have to shoulder the cost of hotel quarantine. All the passengers of Bayanihan flights will undergo COVID-19 RT-PCR test after seven days of quarantine. The cost of the test for land-based OFWs will be shouldered by OWWA; while the Philippine Port Authority will cover the cost for sea-based OFWs. Non-OFWs will have to pay for their own RT-PCR test.
The Philippine government had first imposed restrictions on inbound travel from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman and the UAE from May 15 until May 31, in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that first emerged in India. The travel ban was first extended until June 15, then stretched until June 30 before prolonging it further until July 30.
Thousands of stranded Filipinos in the UAE have signed an online petition seeking to immediately lift the travel restrictions imposed by the Philippine government. The online petition titled ‘Lift the UAE ban! It’s our right to go home’, has garnered over 4,000 virtual signatures.