DOTC hopes to finalize Air Passenger Bill of Rights

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 21 2012 11:14 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2012 07:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) hopes to finalize the Air Passenger Bill of Rights by next month.

Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II said with the conduct of the second public hearing on the initial draft of the document yesterday, which was again well-attended by various stakeholders who were vocal about their concerns, the agency hopes to come up with a second draft to be presented to the public for scrutiny.

“We’re happy with the outcome of this second hearing on the Air Passenger Bill of Rights,” Roxas said.

“The concerns raised are slowly being addressed, and they’re becoming fewer and fewer. As you have seen we only spent an hour and 30 minutes for the public hearing today,” Roxas said.

The second public consultation was presided over by Roxas, Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregorio Domingo, and DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla.

Also present were DTI Undersecretary Zeny Maglaya, Department of Tourism Undersecretary Ma. Victoria Jasmin, Samar 1st district Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director William Hotchkiss III.

Major domestic airlines also sent their representatives.

Among the contentious issues tackled during the hearing were the opening and closing hours of check-in counters depending on the type of aircraft; the required space for airlines to clearly state the restrictions, conditions and other matters about air ticket, including inclusion of terms and conditions twice in English and Filipino; the declaration of the number of seats offered on promo fare; the compensation for passengers who were denied boarding or were bumped off; the compensation for loss, damage and delay of baggage; and special provisions for persons with disabilities.

Roxas reiterated that the DOTC wants to help the air industry sector effectively run their business operations but at the same time emphasized that protecting passengers’ rights is the main objective of crafting the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

He added that the DOTC technical working group will consolidate all the suggestions and comments that came in to put together the second draft.

“In two weeks’ time, we will circulate another draft. The same email address will remain open for a week for final comments on the second draft. Based on that we will determine what’s necessary and what’s not,” Roxas said.

He also clarified that based on the direction of the hearings and emails from stakeholders, the Joint Administrative Order laying down the Air Passenger Bill of Rights would cover only the needs of roughly about 26,000 domestic passengers.

“Our rules would be for everybody serving the domestic market since there are enough rules in the international market, all international flights abide by the existing IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations,” Roxas said.

He said he expects the final version of the Joint Administrative Order to be ready by the end of August.