Safety issues vs ZestAir to be resolved today
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Safety issues that resulted in the grounding of Zest Airways Inc. (ZestAir) planes last Friday are expected to be resolved today.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and ZestAir officials met yesterday to discuss safety violations hounding the airline.  

Violations include the absence of an accountable manager; failure to check aircraft logs, flight manifest, weather, among others; failure to present aircraft mechanic license during ramp inspection; series of occurrences that affected flight operations; refueling with passengers onboard, and excessive flight duty time for pilots.

CAAP acting head John Andrews said yesterday his team had “a fruitful meeting” with ZestAir officials, led by president and chief executive officer Alfredo Yao.

In a text message, Andrews said the CAAP would issue an update on the airline’s status of operations today after assessing the situation.

Last Friday, CAAP issued an order suspending ZestAir’s Airline Operator’s Certificate  following violations of six aviation safety concerns prescribed by Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations.

The airline said it is confident the suspension would be lifted soon.

About 6,000 ZestAir passengers were affected yesterday as the airline’s fleet of 11 airbuses  remained grounded.

“We have offered all affected passengers a full refund or transfer to other airlines so as not to disrupt their travel plans,” ZestAir PR manager Jenny Tan said.

She stressed that the airline is doing everything to address the concerns of passengers and apologized for their inconvenience.

“The airline is more concerned about the affected passengers than the revenue losses,” she said.

ZestAir passengers are being absorbed by Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, Cebu Pacific, and Tiger Airways Philippines.

Tan said ZestAir passengers from Manila to Kuala Lumpur flight were accommodated by low cost carrier giant AirAsia.

Earlier, ZestAir director Joy Caneba said about 7,600 passengers a day are being affected by the grounding order and the airline is losing at least P70 million in potential revenues daily.

She said the airline had already addressed safety concerns after it was placed on heightened surveillance late last month.

It has also designated the airline’s president as accountable officer.

“All findings in CAAP’s letter have already been appropriately addressed, and we believe that they do not merit suspension and grounding of our operations,” she said.

She pointed out that the airline had even voluntarily grounded several aircraft in the past few weeks to ensure the safety of passengers and none of its pilots exceeded the flight time limit of 100 hours per month.


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