The government is planning to order the country’s top airlines to reduce flights to Caticlan, the gateway to Boracay Island, in the middle of the peak summer season due to almost daily and unexplained cancellations of flights.
The slots that would be freed up, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said, would in turn be given to other airlines that might be able to operate the flights more efficiently, minimizing the inconvenience to passengers.
“We’ve found out that there are a lot of cancellations of flights to Caticlan, and most of the cancellations are of noon time and afternoon flights,” said Wyrlou Samodio, head of the CAB’s legal division, which is in charge of passenger complaints. “And airlines always cite the same reasons. They also say these are caused by ‘aircraft situation,’ which for us is a very broad reason.”
He said the nearly daily cancellation of flights started on the first week of April. Most of the cancellations were also by budget airlines’ Cebu Pacific and PAL Express. Cebu Pacific is owned by the Gokongwei family while PAL Express is the affiliate of flag carrier Philippine Airlines. PAL Express has 68 flights weekly to Caticlan, or about 10 flights a day for most of the week.
Zest Airways and Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAir) also have flights to Caticlan.
Samodio said the CAB would ask Cebu Pacific and PAL Express to reduce their flights to Caticlan voluntarily. If the airlines refuse, the CAB would likely issue an official order that airlines would have no choice but to follow.
The frequent cancellations followed the Department of Transportation and Communications’ implementation of the Passenger Bill of Rights (PBR) late last year.
The PBR, drafted together with the trade and industry and tourism departments, outlines the rights of passengers in case of problems with their flights, among other main provisions. Samodio said based on the CAB’s monitoring, all airlines were able to comply with the rules in the PBR.