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CAAP orders low-cost airlines to provide meals for crew

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) ordered all low-cost carriers (LCC) operating in the Philippines to provide their pilots, co-pilots and cabin crew separate meals in flight or on-duty.

CAAP deputy director general John Andrews said the directive should be implemented immediately.

He said the directive was issued after CAAP found out the practice of air carrier operators to merely allow their cockpit crew to purchase their individual meals instead of providing separate airline prepared meals during flights.

“This agency is taking cognizance that airlines are giving flight crews the unnecessary burden of securing and buying their own meals from sources with uncertain sanitation in food preparation,” Andrews said in his directive.

He said buying food from certain sources could expose the flight crew to food contamination or poisoning “which may adversely affect their job performance and may possibly result to incapacitation during flight duties.”

“Therefore, in the interest of safety, all carriers are hereby directed to provide adequate and separate kind of meals to cockpit crew during flight duties,” the directive said.

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Andrews added the pilot should have a different kind of meal from the co-pilot so that in case of contaminated food, one of them would not be affected and could continue to fly until reaching their destination where medical help is available.

He said this is a practice of all airline companies, from legacy carriers to LCCs.

Andrews cited the case of Cebu Pacific, where pilot error caused the aircraft to veer off the runway of the Davao International Airport last June 2.

He said CAAP considered fatigue and hunger as one of the factors that led to the pilot error.

Andrews defined a proper meal as similar to the three square meals consumed by Filipinos, including snacks or sandwiches.

Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog said they always provide the cockpit and cabin crews with meals.

“We have always provided meals for our crew,” Iyog stressed.

AirAsia Philippines Inc. chief executive officer Maan Hontiveros said it is the standard operating procedure of the airline to provide different meals for its cockpit crew.

“We are in full agreement with CAAP on this and, in fact, we also take precaution that the pilot in command eats a different meal from the co-pilot so that in the unfortunate event of food poisoning, we avoid the possibility that both pilot and co-pilot get incapacitated,” Hontiveros stressed.

Hontiveros said AirAsia Philippines provide three meals for the captain and two forward gallery crew.

She added the airline also provides a different set of meals for the co-pilot and two after gallery crew per flight.

Several LCCs operate in the Philippines, including Cebu Pacific, Pal Express, Seair, Air Asia Philippines, Tiger Air from Singapore, and Dragon Air from Hong Kong.

Lawrence Agcaoili

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