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CAAP lifts suspension of Skyjet and Seair

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has lifted the suspension imposed on Magnum Air Inc. (Skyjet) and Southeast Asia Airlines International Inc. (Seair) after addressing several safety concerns raised by aviation experts from the European Union.

CAAP director general William Hotchkiss III issued an order lifting the suspension of the Airline Operators Certificate (AOC) of both Skyjet and Seair that took effect last May 18.

The orders were sent to Seair International president Avelino Zapanta and Skyjet accountable officer Teodor Fojas.

However, Hotchkiss said both airlines are still the subject of a heightened surveillance by CAAP.

Hotchkiss issued an order dated May 15 suspending Skyjet and Seair International due to various safety shortcomings that apparently did not meet prescribed rules and standards under the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR) as well as safety issues raised by EU aviation experts.

Under Republic Act 9497 otherwise known as the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, the director general has the powers, duties and responsibilities to carry out the purposes and policies established in this act.

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The report submitted the 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.

The suspension prompted Skyjet to elevate the case to a lower court in Pasay City.

Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Branch 119 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order preventing CAAP from implementing an order signed by Hotchkiss last May 15 indefinitely suspending the operations of Skyjet.

Skyjet president Dino Reyes Chua said the airline has already undertaken and would continue to take comprehensive enhanced corrective actions relative to the flight data monitoring, quality assurance, air worthiness, and maintenance control.

Chua stated in a letter dated June 3 that the airline has agreed to voluntarily ground all its aircraft starting June 4 to give way for the reevaluation or inspection as well as assessment.

“We fully understand that safety and security is paramount to CAAP. We recongnized the power and authority of the director general to ensure public safety above all,” he added.

As such, he explained that the airline is withdrawing the case it filed against CAAP before the Pasay City regional trial court seeking P20 million damages due to the suspension of its operations last May 18.

“On behalf of Skyjet Airlines family, our sincerest apologies for whatever inconvenience that may have been created as a result of certain extreme actions on our part,” Chua said.

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 carriers banned from flying to Europe.

In 2010, following a first EU aviation safety assessment visit, the European Union put all the airlines for which the Philippine authorities have safety oversight responsibility on the EU Air Safety List, effectively banning any Philippine airline from flying to Europe.

The EU has already allowed national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) to enter the European airspace.


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