Manila, Nov 19 (IANS) International and domestic airlines have incurred losses amounting to $2 billion owing to cancellation of a large number of flights during the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit being held in the Phillipines.
The summit, taking place in the capital city of Manila, started on Wednesday. It is being attended by leaders from 21 countries, EFE news reported on Thursday.
The airlines were forced to cancel more than 1,800 flights between November 16 and 20 as the only runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed to facilitate the arrival and departure of leaders attending the summit, including US President Barack Obama.
Cebu-Pacific, the country’s premier low-cost airline, has so far incurred losses of around $400 million, which the company expects will go up further.
“Cebu-Pacific is expecting more changes in flight schedules within the week, and this figure may still change,” company officials said.
State-owned Philippine Airlines estimates losses of around $18.7 million.
“We must stress, however, that the long-term benefits of APEC outweigh these aforementioned losses,” said Philippine Airlines spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.
Meanwhile, residents of Manila took to social media to complain about the problems caused by the flight cancellations, closure of government offices and education centres, and the barricading of a great part of the capital city.
The government was also criticised over the huge expense it has incurred for the summit from its public coffers — with estimates placing the amount at around $212 million.