MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has slapped a P52-million fine against Gokongwei-led budget carrier Cebu Pacific over the flight cancellations and delays during the Christmas holidays.
The decision was made by the government panel composed of the CAB, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Manila International Airport Authority.
CAAP said they based the penalty on the number of affected passengers, which reached more than 10,000.
CAB director Jose Victor Luciano said the board decided to impose a P5,000 fine for every affected passenger.
"Cebu Pacific was fined P52 million. That was based on the 10,400 passengers that were affected by delays and cancellations on December 24, 25, and 26,” he said.
The airline can still file a motion for reconsideration.
Cebu Pacific vice president for corporate affairs Jorenz Tañada said it has yet to receive any official communication from CAB.
"Regarding the reported fine imposed on CEB, we have yet to receive an official communication from CAB. Until then, we cannot give any comment," he said.
CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the board also issued a strong reprimand to the budget carrier. It also required Cebu Pacific to maintain appropriate service standards for all its personnel.
"The fine is based on a finding by the board that Cebu Pacific's operational lapses and passenger mishandling constitutes a breach of the basic condition of its CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity), i.e. to provide proper, suitable, convenient, safe, adequate and reliable air transportation services," he said.
Cebu Pacific had faced complaints from hundreds of irate passengers over dozens of flight delays and cancellations from December 24 to 26. This prompted the government panel to investigate the matter.
Data submitted by Cebu Pacific to the government panel showed the airline had 20 cancelled flights and 288 delayed flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 from December 24 to 26.
"What is clear from the panel’s initial report is that Cebu Pacific had an appalling number of delayed flights from December 24 to 26. Cebu Pacific is blaming air traffic congestion, but this does not appear to be supported by the facts," Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya had earlier said.
For its part, Cebu Pacific also blamed bad weather for the cancellation of several flights on December 25, which caused an overspill on the next day and a high level of absenteeism of check-in personnel.
Cebu Pacific also cited the space constraints at the NAIA 3 as one of the reasons for the long queues, as five international airlines recently moved its operations to the terminal. -- Report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News