DOTr to Cebu Pacific: Submit plan to prevent mass flight cancellations

MANILA, Philippines – After mass flight cancellations, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) ordered budget carrier Cebu Pacific to submit a plan within 30 days.

In a statement on Wednesday, May 15, the DOTr said the plan should prevent further passenger inconvenience and address similar issues in the future.

"We are hoping that Cebu Pacific will immediately comply with the order to resolve this issue.... But moving forward, we aim to have more substantial actions so that our passengers will not have to suffer," Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

In a span of nearly two weeks from April 28 to May 10, Cebu Pacific canceled 172 one-way domestic flights, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). This is equivalent to around 14 flights a day, out of Cebu Pacific's 400 daily domestic flights.

The CAB held two formal hearings on the matter to allow Cebu Pacific to explain the cause behind the cancellations.

Cebu Pacific, during the hearing, explained that it was improving its on-time performance, leading to the decision to cancel hundreds of flights.

The DOTr said the budget carrier told them that it takes as long as 66 minutes from the moment the doors are closed before the plane takes off. It takes around 19.6 minutes before the plane leaves the parking position, then another 46.6 minutes to takeoff.

The shortest stay at the tarmac before takeoff was recorded at 49 minutes.

Cebu Pacific's on-time performance was at a low of 30% in March. The cancellations were done to make way for "operational recovery" and to "minimize rolling delays."

Aside from the plan, Tugade also directed the daily publication of airline on-time performance in major airports across the country. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.