Five major local airlines vow to support the government’s measures to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in a ceremony held at the Philippine International Convention Center yesterday. From left are Carmelo Arcilla, executive director, Civil Aeronautics Board; Jim Sydiongco, director general, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; Ed Monreal, general manager, Manila International Airport Authority; Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO, Cebu Air Inc. and chairman, Air Carriers’ Association of the Philippines; Vivienne Tan, officer-in-charge, Philippine Airlines Inc.; Dexter Comendador, president and CEO, AirAsia Inc.; Bonifacio Sam, president, PAL Express, and Paterno Mantarin, VP for corporate affairs, CebGo.
Ernie Peñaredondo
Airlines sign pledge to decongest NAIA
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local airline companies have committed to step up efforts in ensuring convenience and comfort of passengers who often encounter flight delays and cancellations due to the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Airline operators Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, PAL Express and CebGo signed yesterday their pledge of commitment and support for the directive of President Duterte to decongest NAIA and enhance the comfort and convenience of air passengers.

To further decongest NAIA, the airline firms also pledged to support the development and promotion of other gateways in the country, especially the Sangley Airport in Cavite.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the accelerated construction of additional facilities at Sangley Airport to meet the operational timeline set by the President for the military air base to commence general aviation and turboprop operations by November.

Under the pledge of commitment, airlines vowed to review the flight operations of their respective airline companies to rationalize flight numbers, aircraft movement and rotation, as well as the usage of slots and flying rights, to improve on-time performance.

Signatories also committed to accept accountability for causes of flight delays and cancellations within their control, as well as support the development of mechanisms of discipline for the entire industry.

A joint memorandum circular released by the Department of Transportation last week revealed stiffer sanctions await airlines which have been misusing their airport slots in NAIA.

“I think it’s very clear that the President’s objective is to assure passenger safety and convenience and comfort. As national carriers, we’re being reminded of our responsibility to assure the public of that. And as an undertaking, if we do not meet the required standards of service, and we’re unable to show any progress or improvement in achieving these responsibilities, then we must be penalized. First with financial, then second lost slots,” said Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Air Inc. president and CEO and also chairman of the Air Carrier’s Association of the Philippines.

Gokongwei said while there is a clear need to improve the country’s infrastructure to address airport congestion which causes flight delays and cancellations, there is also a need for airlines to step up their game.

To raise the level of comfort and convenience of passengers at the NAIA, the airlines vowed to disseminate accurate and timely information to the public through all available avenues and platforms, including social media and public announcement systems inside terminals and even while inside the aircraft, in instances of flight delays and cancellations.

They have also committed to provide and distribute meals, snacks and refreshments to passengers, consistent with the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.

The pledge of commitment further seeks to address the growing demands for air travel in the country, particularly at the NAIA, which is operating way over its design capacity.

“Airlines have made a bold step to improve overall efficiency. Airport congestion is really getting to be a big concern worldwide. For us to sustain our growth in this aviation environment, we need to have a balance between safety and operational efficiency. Too much of one will mean failure of the other. Thus, it is imperative that we not only do the right things but we should also do things right,” AirAsia president and CEO Dexter Comendador said.

“We need to support each and everyone, not just in air transportation, but the rest of the nation. I hope that PAL will be part of the private entity that can help the government, including the President, in putting forward the Philippines and make a very good future ahead of us,” PAL officer-in-charge Vivienne Tan said.

Collaborative effort

Tugade said solving congestion problems at NAIA should be a collaborative effort between the government and the private sector.

He said it would entail a basket of solutions, one of which is making Sangley Airport operational.

“We thank Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, PAL Express and CebGo for uniting in this goal of providing comfort to the Filipino people. This initiative is a testament to the many ways the government and private sector can work together to solve problems. However, I am expecting that this commitment will not just remain a piece of paper, but will be implemented effectively and felt immediately by our passengers,” Tugade said. – With Rudy Santos

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