Airlines face fines for chronic delays

Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local airlines operating with chronic delays may soon face monetary penalties as the country’s air transport regulator is set to release a circular that will bolster government’s efforts to improve passenger service and address flight delays.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla said a memorandum circular would be issued in a couple of months, which would provide regulations as well as potential penalties for local airlines in terms of flight delays and cancellations.

Arcilla said penalties would “initially be pecuniary.”

“There is a monetary penalty so that if an airline for example knows that this flight is not viable, it is always cancelled or always delayed, then it should be changed already,” he said.

“So we are coming up with a regulation. We are going to penalized the chronic delays, not the delay per se, not the cancellation per se, because it is a reality in the aviation industry. Everywhere you go there will be cancellation and there will be delays, but what we are looking at is drawing the line between normal delays which are unavoidable in a certain level and chronic delays,” Arcilla said.

Arcilla said having chronic delays puts into question the “soundness of the planning” of an airline.

“If you are more than 50 percent delayed for that route alone, to our mind there is a problem in the way that you plan your services. And so we have to deal with that,” he said.

Last June, the government and airlines came into agreement regarding the need to impose penalties and sanctions for unreasonable flight delays or delays caused by the airlines.

The CAB last month ordered all local carriers to submit a monthly on-time performance (OTP) report which must contain the average of all daily flights per airport of origin.

The OTPs should be determined by recording the time of chocks-off, in case of a departure, and chocks-on, for arrival.

The CAB said that if the actual departure or arrival time is up to 15 minutes past the original schedule, then flight is considered on time.

“Offhand we see an improvement. OTP is improving but it is still too early because the longer the period we reckon the performance the more valuable the data. So we need more time to look at it on a longer time frame,” Arcilla said.

OTP rating for airports is measured by the number of departures and arrivals that take place in less than 15 minutes after scheduled departure/arrival times, including cancellations.

Cebu Pacific was earlier investigated by the CAB after cancelling a total of 172 one-way domestic flights from April 28 to May 10, which is equivalent to about 14 flights a day, out of its more or less 400 daily domestic flights.

The budget carrier reported during the hearings that it takes at least 49 minutes and as long as 66 minutes from the aircraft’s closing of doors to actual lift-off.

Of the said period, about 19.6 minutes is spent from the closing of doors to the “blocks off” or the time the aircraft vacates the parking position, while 46.6 minutes from the blocks off to the lift-off.
The hour-long stay on the tarmac was observed to have pushed Cebu Pacific’s OTP to an average of 51.16 percent, with lows of around 30 percent in March.

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