MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Low-cost carrier Zest Air was cleared for take-off Tuesday, August 20, days after it was suspended by regulators due to safety breaches.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general John Andrews said in a text message sent to Rappler, “[the] suspension order on the AOC (Air Operator Certificate) [of Zest Air] has been lifted.”
Andrews said 3 of the 11 aircraft of the carrier were “released for flight.”
Zest Air Director Joy Caneba told Rappler: “This is a relief and a welcome news. It confirms that cooperation between CAAP and the airline is more productive. It confirms that Zest Air has been following standards required and will continue to do so.”
She said one plane is now being used for China routes. “We have so many Chinese passengers stranded here.”
Andrews said the rest of Zest Air’s planes will be cleared once inspectors resolve “some open items.”
Caneba said the inspectors were unable to complete the review because of bad weather.
CAAP grounded Zest Air’s operations on Friday, August 16, citing “a series of serious deviations and infractions” of aviation rules and standards.
CAAP said Zest Air violated, among others, the rule requiring airlines to have an “accountable manager” who should ensure operations are financed and carried out safely.
Zest Air however insisted its fleet is “safe and airworthy.” It claimed it had addressed the safety concerns raised by CAAP.
Over 7,000 Zest Air passengers daily were affected by the carrier’s suspension. The passengers got full refunds or were rebooked on other airlines.
Zest Air said it lost P70 million in revenues per day due to the grounding of its fleet.
The airline, owned by juice magnate Alfredo Yao and the Philippine unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia, flies to domestic destinations Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, and Tagbilaran. Its overseas destinations are Shanghai, Jinjiang, Incheon, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
It has a fleet of 10 Airbus A320s and one A319 operating out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as well as hubs in Kalibo and Cebu. – Rappler.com