DOT, CAB to enhance Air Passenger Bill of Rights
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) will work with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in enhancing the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR), which will require airlines to upgrade their systems to relay announcements to passengers.

The CAB on Monday held a board meeting to thresh out issues and discuss the implementation of rules that airlines must follow during emergencies and similar situations.

“While it already contains strong provisions protecting the consumer in cases of force majeure (like the recent Taal incident) including the right to compensation and amenities in case of flight delays or cancellation of flights, the APBR will be further strengthened by introducing provisions that will empower passengers to get timely notice or information from the airline, whether the flight will be cancelled, delayed, or push through,” the DOT, which sits as CAB vice chair, said.

The CAB said this enhancement would obligate airlines to invest on system upgrades or develop technology to relay announcements to passengers, complete with appropriate advisories on steps to take for them to avail of the entitlements under the APBR.

“The safety and welfare of passengers and tourists have always been a top priority of the CAB and DOT,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

“With the enhanced APBR, we can ensure that they are provided with relevant, critical, and useful information during emergencies or as natural calamities unfold, thereby helping reduce the inconvenience or stress that passengers may experience during these unfortunate situations,” she said.

For its part, the CAB said it would also continue to issue advisories to airlines reiterating their obligations to their passengers.

It reminded passengers that in cases of force majeure/natural disaster, as a rule, they are entitled to reimbursement of the full value of the fare even if the fare was deemed non-refundable by the airline.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines(CAAP) earlier suspended flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport(NAIA) on January from 6 p.m. which lasted until the next morning, due to the eruption of Taal Volcano.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal earlier said the suspension of the airport’s operations affected around 516 flights, which translates to an estimated 80,000 passengers.
At present, Taal Volcano is still under Alert Level 4, warning by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), which means an eruption is imminent.

The DOT advised earlier all tourism enterprises operating in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption to immediately cease operations, in line with ensuring the safety of both tourists and tourism workers.

It added that the continued health, safety and welfare of workers and tourists remain a top priority as authorities have not downgraded the advisory on an imminent eruption.

While some establishments continue to push for the resumption of their operations, the DOT called on tourism stakeholders in affected areas to strictly heed the advise of agencies handling the natural disaster.

“The DOT trusts that the local government unit, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, and other concerned agencies will seek guidance from the DOST-Phivolcs to ensure the safety of our tourists and employees in their decision to resume operations in Tagaytay,” DOT said.

AIR PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS
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