Abaya wants higher penalties for erring airlines

by Caroline Howard, ANC

Posted at Dec 29 2014 01:12 PM | Updated as of Dec 30 2014 01:06 AM

MANILA – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) admits there is a need to amend the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines and the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

“Clearly ang amendment of the law ang kailangan at hindi commensurate na ‘yung penalties sa lumang batas na ‘yan para sa violations ng mas makabagong Air Passenger Bill of Rights,” said Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya.

Cebu Pacific is facing at least 14 complaints before the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) since the Christmas Day melee at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 due to flight delays and cancellations, and supposed overbooking.

Abaya said aside from penalties, Cebu Pacific should be ready to compensate affected passengers for the inconvenience.

He pointed out that the franchise to operate an airline is a privilege that can also be withdrawn.

“Hopefully sa page-engage sa Cebu Pacific ay makita nila na huwag nilang asahan na pang-penalty lang at sa kanilang interest na i-compensate ang mga pasahero dahil brand name din at reputasyon nila ang nakatayo dito. Kapag ‘di maganda ang kanilang pamamalakad sa krisis, madaling lumipat ang mga pasahero,” he said.

Cebu Pacific has partly blamed flight cancellations and delays on bad weather, but the airline admitted to also being understaffed over the holiday season.

“Titingnan din namin kung nagkansela due to weather, dapat ‘yung ibang airlines nagkansel din ng due to weather. Kung hindi naman congested ang iba, dapat hindi ka congested. Kung may kakulangan ng check-in personnel, clearly dapat na-anticipate nila ang nangyari diyan, pero nababanggit kesyo napuyat, na-stress, ‘di nakapunta sa trabaho. Hindi acceptable ‘yan kapag public service ang iyong business,” said Abaya.

He also said they will also look into monitoring and reviewing the industry practice of overbooking and the actual implementation of auctioning off available seats.

Although overbooking by 10 percent is allowed, the CAB said it plans to issue a new rule prohibiting overbooking during peak season, particularly Christmas.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, CAB, and the Manila International Airport officials are meeting on Monday to determine whether Cebu Pacific has any liability in the passenger confusion at the NAIA-3 last week, and whether stricter regulations are necessary.