Senator Chiz Escudero on Thursday (June 22) expressed openness to the proposal of passing laws that would institutionalize the air passenger’s bill of rights and impose stiffer penalties on violators amid the rising grievances by travelers against poor airline services.
The senator said it is about time the current Congress should look into legislating the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, a proposal that was backed up by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) at yesterday’s hearing conducted jointly by the Committee on Tourism and the Committee on Public Services chaired by Senators Nancy Binay and Grace Poe, respectively.
“Similar measures had been filed in previous Congress but nothing happened. It is about time that we in the 19th Congress should look into this seriously and hopefully pass the necessary legislation,” Escudero said as he monitored the proceeding.
During the hearing, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the violations and penalties in the 71-year-old Republic Act 776 or the “Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines” have not been revised and limits the fine to five thousand pesos for each violation.
On the other hand, the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights was not legislated but contained in the Joint Administrative Order No.1 of the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2012.
Specifically, the Air Passenger Bill of Rights protects air passengers from problems in the airport, such as delayed or canceled flights without appropriate warning, lost luggage, and overbooking of flights, among others. It also covers pre-flight issues, such as misleading fare advertisements.
At the hearing, which tackled complaints lodged by passengers on delayed and canceled flights, overbooking, offloading, offboarding and lost luggage, airline representatives acknowledged the challenges faced by their companies and issued separate public apologies for the inconvenience brought to the affected passengers.
Airline officials also informed the senators that they are undertaking measures and are coordinating with concerned government to address the situation effectively. Present were officials of Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific.
Cebu Pacific chief commercial officer Alexander Lao, whose airline was the subject of most complaints, said the flight delays and cancellations during the past months was caused mainly by, among others, the Supply Chain Issues (global shortage on airline components and spare parts) that resulted in more Aircraft on Ground (AOGs), delays in the scheduled delivery of aircraft from Airbus, logistics challenges resulting to prolonged aircraft recovery, and uncontrollable weather-related condition.
Sen. Binay is scheduled to hold a follow up meeting soon, with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officials in attendance.