Poe says PH aviation sector asking for credit lines not direct cash subsidy from govt
MANILA, Philippines — The aviation sector is not requesting for a direct cash subsidy of P8.6 billion per month but is instead asking for relief and credit lines from the government as the industry struggles due to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, Senator Grace Poe said.
Poe earlier led a hearing on the partial resumption of mass transportation where Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) vice-chairman Roberto Lim said the aviation sector will need a total of P8.6 billion in monthly subsidy from the government to sustain the industry in the wake of the pandemic.
But the senator said a member of the airline industry talked to her and clarified that the sector is not asking a direct bailout from the government.
“Meron namang nagklaro na miyembro ng industriya ng airlines na nagsabi sa ‘kin na hindi naman daw sila nanghihingi ng diretsong bailout na pera na P8 billion plus. Ang gusto naman nila ay medyo konting konsiderasyon dun sa mga ibinabayad din nila sa gobyerno,” Poe said in an interview on TeleRadyo on Wednesday.
(There’s someone who clarified, a member of the airline industry told me that they are not asking for a direct cash bailout o P8 billion-plus. What they are asking is a consideration of the fees they are paying the government).
During Poe’s hearing on Monday, Lim said airlines pay P500 million to civil aviation authorities monthly.
This consists of navigation charges as well as landing and take-off fees, he added.
The senator further said that since travel has been suspended due to the pandemic, it would be ideal for airlines to give passengers travel vouchers instead of refunds.
“Hindi nakakapagbiyahe ngayon so marami silang kailangang bigyan ng refund. Sa ibang mga pagkakataon na baka payagan sila na imbes na diretsong ibalik ang refund sa mga pasaherong ‘di nakabiyahe, baka naman travel vouchers para pwedeng gamiting muli sa bang pagkakataon pag nag-ease na yung restriction,” Poe went on.
(Traveling is not allowed right now so airlines are giving refunds to passengers. So maybe airlines can be allowed to give travel vouchers to those who had their flights canceled which can be used in another time when restrictions have been eased).
She said airlines are also seeking for credit lines from the government since private banks may have apprehensions of lending to airlines amid the pandemic.
“Sinasabi nga nila marami rin nakadepende sa kanilang industrya. Totoo yan, parang 500,000 employees. So marami rin yon. Kung mabibigyan ng gobyerno, yung mga exemptions na yun at saka credit line, pautangin daw sila para makapagumpsa sila ng kanilang trabaho muli sa mga darating na linggo o buwan, ay makakatulong yon,” the senator said.
(They are saying that a lot is dependent on their industry. That’s true, I think they have 500,000 employees. So that’s a lot. If the government can grant the airlines those exemptions and credit lines, let them borrow some money so they can restart in the coming weeks or months, that would really help).
“Kasi siyempre sa mga private banks mahirap siguro ngayong magpautang sa airline industry kasi masyadong risky o delikado. So baka naman ang gobyerno mismo ang pwedeng mag-extend ng credit line,” she added.
(Because in private banks, they are probably apprehensive of lending to the airline industry since it would be too risky or dangerous. So maybe the government can extend a credit line).
“So yun yung kabuuan ng hinihingi nilang bailout na hind nila na-explain ng tama doon sa aming pagdinig,” she further said.
(So that is the bailout they are asking which was not explained clearly during our earlier hearing).
The Philippine airline industry could lose about $4.9 billion, or approximately P250 billion, until the end of the year due to the ongoing pandemic.
Around 25,000 to 500,000 jobs in the aviation sector are also at stake.
Last week, the country’s COVID-19 task force suspended all incoming international flights in the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, and other international airports in the country.
Air travel, among other means of transportation, has also been previously suspended since last March 17 when the government imposed an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over the entire Luzon and other areas.
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