LIA regrets suspension despite probe finding
- Rey Arquiza () - January 12, 2003 - 12:00am
Laoag International Airlines (LIA) regrets that Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza has ordered the continued suspension of the airline’s operations despite findings that "human or pilot error" caused one of its aircraft to crash into Manila Bay last Nov. 11.

In a statement, Alvin Manuel Yater, LIA assistant vice president for sales and marketing, said the airline had exercised "extra due diligence" in hiring the pilot and co-pilot of the ill-fated Fokker-27, who were fully qualified as commercial aviation pilots.

"The chief pilot, Capt. Bernie Crisostomo, was a former pilot of the Philippine Air Force and a veteran commercial pilot after he resigned from the PAF," the statement said.

Yater said LIA planes were properly and efficiently maintained for commerical flight operations and that "pilot error" had caused the accident.

"The management cannot be blamed for the accident based on human error or pilot’s error after exercising extra due diligence in hiring its pilots," the statement added.

Yater said the "small airline" served mostly "missionary routes" where major airlines did not fly because they were not highly profitable.

"This LIA served the travelers to and from isolated and remote areas who would otherwise be deprived of fast transportation were if not for the LIA service," he said.

Yater said when LIA Flight 585 crashed, it was bound for Batanes, the country’s northernmost island.

"We should not penalize the people in remote areas and operators of small airlines just because of one pilot’s error which happens to even the most efficient and the biggest airlines in the world," the statement said.

Yater said LIA will appeal to Mendoza to lift the suspension "in the interest of justice and fairness" and that of the passengers the airline has been serving.

"LIA’s serving of pioneer routes also help promote the national and rural economies," he said.

Yater said the airline will continue to give full medical and financial assistance to surviving crash victims and the relatives of those who had died.

"We are doing everything in our power to compensate the victims and their relatives in accordance with law and compassion," he said. "But at the same time we expect fairness and compassion also from the government."

The airline will continue to work for the fast payment of the insurance proceeds from the Australian company that insured the passengers of Flight 585, Yater added.

AIRLINE ALVIN MANUEL YATER BERNIE CRISOSTOMO LAOAG INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES LIA MANILA BAY PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE PILOT TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY LEANDRO MENDOZA YATER
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