Overview of the Philippine aviation industryThe aviation industry is a significant contributor to the Philippine economy, with air arrivals accounting for over 95 percent of tourist arrivals to the country. Currently, there are about 80 airports nationwide that can handle both domestic and international flights. The biggest is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), also known as the Manila International Airport, which consists of four passenger terminals. The airport serves as a hub for the major commercial airlines in the country namely the Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, Cebu Pacific, and Philippines AirAsia. In 2020, about 11.27 million passengers were recorded in the NAIA airport terminals, the majority of whom were flying domestically. Aside from NAIA, the other leading airports in the country are the Mactan-Cebu International Airport which serves the Central Visayas region, and the Clark International Airport which serves Central Luzon and the Greater Manila area.
Disruptions caused by COVID-19With the rising number of COVID-19 infections, all outbound international flights were first suspended in the Philippines in March 2020. Following this, the majority of incoming and outgoing flights were banned, except for sweeper flights to repatriate foreigners and bring distressed Filipinos back to the country. In the following months, limited aircraft movement was recorded in major airports, which were mostly domestic bound. Notably, despite the vaccine roll-out in the country, air travel levels in the Philippines still lag behind its neighbors in the Asia Pacific region. While most travelers are allowed entry, a 14-day quarantine, even for vaccinated travelers, is still required, contributing to the slow recovery of international tourist arrivals to the country.
Apart from passenger traffic, air cargo also reported a sizable contraction in traffic in 2020. Domestic air cargo traffic, for example, dropped by 54 percent in that year. However, air-freight transport demand was forecast to reach its pre-pandemic levels by 2023.