DOTC, CAB: Cebu Pacific’s ‘excuses’ unacceptable

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DOTC, CAB: Cebu Pacific’s ‘excuses’ unacceptable
A contingency plan should have be in place during peak seasons like Christmas and New Year to ensure passenger welfare, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya says

MANILA, Philippines – Not satisfied.

That is the reaction of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to Cebu Air Inc’s (Cebu Pacific) explanation over its bungled holiday operations that saw a delay of the budget carrier’s 100 flights on Christmas Eve.

In a television interview, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that Cebu Pacific should have prepared a contingency plan to accommodate and address the needs of passengers, particularly during the Christmas season.

Abaya also stressed the failure of the overworked staff of Cebu Pacific to perform efficiently during the holiday rush is not an acceptable reason.

An initial investigation showed that 142 flights were delayed on December 24 – 100 belonged to Cebu Pacific, MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado said during the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) hearing on the incident on Monday, December 29.

The check-in counters of Cebu Pacific were undermanned on that date resulting in long queues, Honrado added.

MIAA is also not buying Cebu Pacific’s excuse that the delays and flight cancellations were caused by air traffic congestion and bad weather, Honrado said.

As such, DOTC tasked CAB to look into the possible revisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act, including the Air Passenger Bill of Rights to protect the riding public.

Also, a panel was formed to look into the liability of Cebu Pacific amid the rising number of complaints from passengers following the December 24 delays and cancellations, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said.

The panel, composed of CAB, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is set to meet early January 2015 to look into the documents and reports to be submitted by Cebu Pacific.

“All of these 3 agencies oversee the airline operations, so the findings of this joint committee will be submitted to our respective board for evaluation and for regulations,” Abaya added.

On Sunday, December 28, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares admonished his colleagues in the House of Representatives for failing to swiftly act on an earlier motion to launch a congressional probe into the supposedly excessive fares, delays, and dismal services of the Gokongwei-led budget carrier.

This early, CAB is looking at disallowing overbooking during peak seasons such as the Christmas holidays to avoid “bumping off” of passengers.

Airlines are currently allowed to overbook 10% of total seats to serve as buffer in case passengers fail to show on time.

The budget carrier earlier said that it will cooperate with any investigation to be undertaken by the government.

“We will fully cooperate with the CAB to address their inquiries,” Cebu Pacific Vice President for Corporate Affairs Jorenz Tanada said in a text message.

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