United seeing fully booked flights to PH

United to offer 5 flights a week by July 7
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With the Philippines currently restricting incoming flights to its citizens and their immediate relatives, those who are planning to fly to Manila on United Airlines are limited to just business class seats, with tickets starting at $5,000. Even then, the earliest flight available is July 14.

The earliest economy seats on United Airlines going to Manila will open on July 20, with tickets starting at $3,500, according to the airline’s website.

United Airlines Corporate Communications later sent the following statement: “United currently operates its Guam-Manila service three times a week aboard a Boeing 737 aircraft with a total of 166 seats. Due to a strict order from the Philippine government as part of its measures to fight against the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, all airlines serving Manila, including United, are limited to the number of passengers they can carry to Manila. For that reason, we are allowed to sell a very limited number of seats for each flight right now. Given the situation and until the mandate is lifted, we encourage our customers to book flights as early as possible through united.com.”

This comes as United Airlines announced plans to increase its Saipan-Guam service starting next month. With travel restrictions slowly easing up after over a year of isolation and the CNMI soon to welcome visitors, United’s Saipan-Guam service will increase starting July 7 from four flights a week to five flights a week, implementing a Wednesday flight, according to United Airlines Corporate Communications.

“The June schedule is four-times-weekly; Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Beginning on Wednesday, July 7, we will increase the number of flights, bringing the schedule to five times weekly,” the statement said.

United Airlines’ Guam-Manila service remains restricted to Philippine nationals and immediate relatives of Philippine nationals. Currently, the Philippines is taking measure to ensure a new, more contagious, variant of the COVID-19 virus does not cross its borders, prompting the country to limit its arrival quota to just 2,000 arrivals per day.

The new variant is called the Delta Plus variant.

According to a Philippine-based media outlet, the country has implemented a strict 10-day quarantine rule for returning Filipinos from abroad to prevent the entry of the Delta Plus variant.

The restriction stems from the concern of government officials regarding the continued spread of the Delta Plus variant, which now has at least 200 recorded cases in 11 countries.

Fortunately, the country has yet to record a single case of the Delta Plus variant.

Aside from visitors, the Philippines is currently restricting entry of passengers who have been in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, or the United Arab Emirates in the last 14-days. The restriction does not apply to Philippine nationals on repatriation flights.

The Delta Plus variant, also known as the B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1 variant, is a mutation of the Delta variant that resulted in the lethal surge of cases in India back in May.

The variant is believed to be four times more contagious than the original virus detected in Wuhan, China back in 2019.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on July 4, 2021, at 4:22pm, to insert the statement from United Airlines Corporate Communications.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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