Solons grill DOTr, CAB on imbalance in airfares

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2019 05:00 PM

MANILA – Lawmakers went after the transportation department and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for the imbalance in airfares, during the budget briefing at the House Appropriations Committee Thursday.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso pointed out that while other public utilities have to go through regulatory bodies before making any fare increases, airlines do not appear to go through the same process. 

“Walang taas ng rate kung ’di magkakaroon ng hearing itong CAB whimsically magtataas especially at a time maraming pasahero kung kailan malaki ang supply ng pasahero, doon pa tumataas ang airfare. Paano natin malulutasan ito?” said Veloso.

While CAB Deputy Executive Director Alex Rivera assured lawmakers that government is doing what it can to address the imbalance, he can only offer a guess as to why airfares fluctuate and differ.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago pointed out that fares that were purchased a certain period of time before a flight are cheaper than if the same flight was purchased a day before.

Rivera explained that airfares are affected by the season when they were purchased. It is also affected by airlines’ revenue management systems that have been disrupted by the operation of low-cost airlines. 

Rivera said it makes it incumbent for passengers seeking lower fares to plan their trips well ahead of time. Lastly, Rivera explained airfares are also affected by fuel surcharges.

Zamboanga City Rep. Mannix Dalipe wanted to know what spells the difference between fares bought well ahead of a flight and fares bought a day before the same flight. 

“They will use the same fuel. Yung costing noon pareho,” Dalipe said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, for his part, admitted there was an imbalance and the job of DOTr is to balance the profitability of airlines and accommodation/comfort and reasonability of costs for passengers. 

For Tugade, passengers ultimately decide the reasonability of cost.