Court stops Skyjet suspension for now
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Friday, May 22, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the government's suspension of Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet Airlines) operations over various safety issues.
Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Pasay RTC Branch 119 said the suspension order that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued against Skyjet, dated May 15, was clearly "irregular, not valid, and issued without due process of law."
The TRO issued by the court will be good for 20 days.
The suspension was "premature and done without investigation and without inspection of the airplane of the plaintiff; thus, violative of the constitutional and economic rights of and causing damage to the plaintiff," the court said.
CAAP has prevented Skyjet from flying starting May 18 citing various safety "observations" until the airline addresses issues in flight data monitoring, quality assurance airworthiness, and maintenance control.
The observations were in reference to the report by the European Union (EU) Assessment Team that visited the country in April and looked into the safety situation in a number of Philippine airlines such as Air Asia Zest, PAL Express (formerly Air Philippines Corporation), Island Aviation Incorporated, and Tiger Airways Philippines.
The TRO enjoined CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III and his agents from enforcing the suspension of the Airline Operator's Certificate (AOC) of Skyjet.
An AOR allows an aircraft operator to conduct charter (low or high capacity), flight training, and regular public transport purposes, among other activities.
'No due process'
Skyjet's Communications Director Jovi Zarate said they asked the court to clarify the matter because they believed CAAP did not give them due process before it decided to suspend the leisure airline's operations.
Zarate said the suspension order of CAAP is "invalid" as the regulator was unable to show a full investigation report on EU’s assessment visit.
The case file against CAAP officials includes a P20-million ($448,687.55) damage claim because of the losses incurred by the airline.
"More importantly, the irregular suspension order caused delays that affected around 2,900 passengers," Zarate said.
The Skyjet executive said the company filed the complaint on behalf of the entire aviation industry, adding that as far as they know, this is the first time someone has questioned an order of CAAP.
South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR International Incorporated) was also slapped with a similar suspension order. – Rappler.com
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