Beijing: Amidst its stand-off with the Philippines over a disputed island in the South China Sea, China on Tuesday said it will slash flights to Manila as numbers of tourists have dwindled.
China Southern Airlines, one of the three major Chinese airlines, announced it is cutting flights to the Philippines saying that tourist numbers are shrinking due tensions in the South China Sea.
China Southern will reduce its number of flights between China`s Guangzhou city and Manila to just one a day on certain dates from May 26 to June 30.
The airline normally operates two flights daily on the route.
A spokesman for the airline said the adjustment was made in accordance with the cancellation of "a large number of tourist groups" lately.
Major Chinese travel agencies have announced cancellation of package tours to the Philippines upon travel safety advice issued by the National Tourism Administration earlier this month.
It came after the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines warned Chinese citizens of "massive anti-China demonstrations" related to the Huangyan Island incident.
The demonstration turned out to be modest with over 200 people.
The tourism administration on Sunday said almost all Chinese mainlanders on group tours will leave the Philippines by Wednesday.
Major airlines serving the Chinese mainland and cities in the Philippines include Air China, China Southern, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air.
Tensions in the South China Sea started last month after Philippine navy began objecting to Chinese fishermen`s presence there. Since then, the two countries deployed naval ships in a stand off.
China asserts that the uninhabited Huangyan Island called Panatag shoal by Philippines is its inherent territory, while Manila says it formed part of its Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ).
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday urged the Philippines to respect China`s territorial sovereignty and "refrain from taking action that could expand and complicate the situation.