Philippine economy

Cebu Pacific faces ‘full range of sanctions’

Mick Basa

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Cebu Pacific faces ‘full range of sanctions’
The budget airline faces fines, suspension, and even a revocation of its franchise, if warranted, says the DOTC

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has warned budget carrier Cebu Pacific of a “full range of sanctions” over its delayed and cancelled flights during the holiday rush which affected thousands of people.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya made the statement on Tuesday, January 6, citing the initial report of an investigating panel composed of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). 

“What is clear from the panel’s initial report is that Cebu Pacific had an appalling number of delayed flights from December 24 to 26. Cebu Pacific is blaming air traffic congestion, but this does not appear to be supported by the facts,” Abaya said.

The penalties which could be imposed on the airline range from fines and suspension, to a revocation of its franchise, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a statement on Tuesday, January 6. CAB is empowered to impose the penalties.

The panel probed the liability of Cebu Pacific for numerous flight cancellations which displaced passengers during the holiday season.

The DOTC said the panel “is now gathering its own data to serve as grounds for eventual sanctions.” The data include number of dislocated passengers, routes affected, and total capacity versus seats sold and flown to determine overbooking.

The investigation showed that Cebu Pacific had 20 cancelled flights and 288 delayed flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 between December 24 and 26, displacing thousands of passengers who were mostly homeward bound for the holidays.

“We will see to it that Cebu Pacific will answer for any possible mismanagement,” Abaya said.

Abaya said that “the flying public deserves much better service” than what Cebu Pacific had given them during the holiday rush, especially as some of them had “lost precious hours with their families and loved ones on Christmas.”

He noted that based on the initial investigation, there were 6 delayed arrivals of Cebu Pacific early morning of December 24, when there was no congestion yet at NAIA 3.

“These incidents of tardiness caused a domino effect of delays throughout the rest of the day. And yet Cebu Pacific claims that it was congestion that caused the mess,” Abaya said.

He added that the situation worsened on December 26 morning when there were only two check-in counters for domestic flights, and that more counters were opened at 11 am, only after CAB and MIAA intervened.

Cebu Pacific’s holiday misstep has caught the attention of the House of Representatives, which is mulling its own probe into the alleged excessive fares, delays, and dismal services of the local carrier. –

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