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Passenger safety top consideration in airline’s grounding, says CAAP

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reiterated the safety of passengers is paramount to the government, after a lower court stopped the agency from suspending the operations of Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet) over safety issues.

A statement released by the CAAP said the safety of passengers as well as airports is a major concern of the regulator.

“For CAAP, the safety of passengers and our airports and airspace is paramount. The rules are simple,” the agency stated.

The regulator issued the statement after Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Branch 119 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day Temporary Restraining Order preventing the CAAP from implementing an order signed by CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III last May 15 indefinitely suspending the operations of Skyjet.

“It is very clear that the May 15 suspension order was irregular, not valid and issued without due process of law. 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,” Guitierrez said in the order.

Magnum Air president Dino Reyes Chua stated in the complaint that the suspension order signed by Hotchkiss claimed there was an intensive investigation done, but CAAP could not even produce an investigation report.

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Skyjet is seeking P20 million in damages as the suspension has affected 2,600 passengers.

Last May 18, Hotchkiss announced the suspension of the Airline Operator Certificate (AOC) of Skyjet and South East Asian Airlines International Inc. (Seair-I) due to safety concerns raised by aviation experts from the European Union (EU) and violations of the rules and standards prescribed under the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR).

The report submitted  by the EU Assessment Team revealed that Skyjet yielded eight observations covering different areas from flight data monitoring and quality assurance to airworthiness and maintenance control.

On the other hand, Seair-I yielded 15 safety observations covering different areas from management structure SMS, and accident preventions and flight safety program to flight data management.

Hotchkiss pointed out that the results of assessment visit made by EU from April 16 to 24, as well as the investigation made by CAAP showed that the safety concerns need to be properly given immediate corrective actions.

Seair-I flies to Basco in Batanes, Caticlan, and Tablas Island in Romblon from Manila with a fleet of two turbo-prop Dornier 328 aircraft, while Skyjet owned by the Solar Group flies to Basco, Batanes as well as Busuanga in Palawan from Manila with its BAE 146-100 and Dornier 328 aircraft.

It would be recalled that aviation experts from the European Commission, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and EU member states visited the country from April 16 to 24 to examine the safety oversight system of Philippine air carriers still on the list of banned carriers allowed to fly to Europe.





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