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House bill seeks relief for domestic airlines

Party-list Rep. Sharon S. Garin has filed a bill providing relief for the country’s domestic air carriers is being pushed by of the AAMBIS-OWA.

Garin filed House Bill 9324 or the proposed Air Carriers Relief Act to provide economic relief for the air transport sector by extending loan payments, interest-free loans, loan guarantees and regulatory reliefs.

According to Garin, the Philippine air transport sector faces an “existential threat” after the lockdown measures to stem the spread of Covid-19 has shut down commercial air travel.

The lawmaker cited the warning by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation that most airlines will go bankrupt as passenger planes remained still on tarmacs around the world.

The bill appropriates P40 billion for interest-free loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Guarantee Corp. Special Guarantee Fund, regulatory fees and mandatory rapid testing.

The bill also proposes for the temporary relief from payment of excise taxes on purchases of fuel by Philippine air carriers for a period of two years.

Major carriers have incurred huge losses due to prolonged lockdowns and mobility restrictions.

Garin said that while Philippine air carriers play a vital role in the economy, they currently face an “existential threat.”

“Despite the debilitating effects of the lockdown to its operations, airline companies continue to support the nation in its recovery by continuing to fly our displaced overseas Filipino workers and assist in the delivery of medical equipment to key cities, including logistics support of the vaccine roll-out,” Garin said.

As the major facilitator of the flow of goods, investments, and people, Garin said that any economic recovery package can never be considered as economic stimulus without reliefs granted to the air transport sector.

Garin added that foreign airlines in different countries are already talking, issuing and releasing relief packages like those in Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada and US.

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