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ZestAir grounding affects 7,600 passengers daily

MANILA, Philippines - About 7,600 passengers per day are affected by the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to ground low cost carrier Zest Airways Inc. last Friday due to several safety issues, an airline official said.

ZestAir chief information officer Joy Canebo yesterday said this amounts to about P70 million in foregone revenues daily.

Canebo said the passengers affected by the suspension of ZestAir’s Airline Operator’s Certificate (AOC) are being accommodated by other airlines.

ZestAir is more concerned about the affected passengers than revenue losses, thereby making sure that they are booked on other airlines so as not to disrupt their flights, Canebo added.

In an advisory, national flag carrier Philippines Airlines (PAL) and sister company PAL Express said they will continue to assist stranded ZestAir passengers by accommodating them on regular flights.

Additional flights would also be operated by the full service carrier and budget airline to help affected passengers.

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Last Friday, PAL and PAL Express mounted special flights to and from Davao City after CAAP suspended the AOC of ZestAir.

Stranded passengers of ZestAir who wish to take PAL flights to their destination were advised to proceed to the old domestic terminal and present their plane tickets to ZestAir’s ticketing office or check-in counters in order to secure the necessary endorsements allowing them to take PAL or PAL Express flights.

On the other hand, affected passengers in provincial stations were advised to present their tickets to ZestAir check-in counters for endorsement purposes as well.

After securing the necessary endorsements, affected ZestAir passengers should proceed to NAIA terminals 2 and 3 and present their duly endorsed tickets in PAL or PAL Express check-in counters.

The suspended airline also struck an agreement with budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) to mount special flights to accommodate affected passengers.

Canebo said ZestAir is confident that the suspension would soon be lifted by CAAP as the airline has complied with all the safety issues since it was placed under heightened surveillance by the regulator late last month.

“It is our goal to resolve this issue as soon as possible, hopefully by Monday,” she said in a text message yesterday.

So far, the airline’s flights between Aug. 17 and 19 have been cancelled due to the suspension of its permit to fly and the airline is expected to update passengers from tomorrow onwards.

ZestAir, jointly owned by ambassador Alfredo Yao and Philippines AirAsia Inc., is confident that the issues raised by aviation authorities would be resolved soon, paving the way for the possible lifting of suspension of the airline’s operations.

“We are surprised that this was issued without giving us an opportunity to properly respond to the points they raised. The management of ZestAir has been in full cooperation with CAAP in ensuring that the maintenance programs and policies of ZestAir are in place,” Canebo said. - With Rudy Santos

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