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Biz Buzz: Emirates tries again

/ 05:28 AM December 19, 2014

Remember a previous item here on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific being furious about how Emirates, one of the biggest carriers in the world, was allegedly playing fast and loose with our rules?

Well, the Dubai-based giant is apparently attempting to do so again, now with what is being called a “brazen” request to sit as an observer in the Philippine Air Consultation Panel, which is comprised of key Philippine government agencies and domestic carriers.

The discussion, which we hear was moved to Dec. 22 from Dec. 19, involves proposed air talks with the United Arab Emirates, which may result in increased flights for the lucrative Manila-Dubai route and are, thus, being contested by PAL and Cebu Pacific as it would hurt their business.

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A Dec. 16 letter obtained by Biz Buzz showed that Emirates’ Philippine manager Abdalla Al-Zamani wrote Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, requesting that their representatives be “designated as observers at the consultation meeting.”

We will leave the economic arguments to such an increase in flights to the Philippine and UAE experts. However, we have to agree that this request is highly unusual.

In fact, a government official involved in the situation said it was “unprecedented” to have a foreign carrier sit in during an internal Philippine meeting on air strategy.

An observer, after all, isn’t just a passive bystander in these meetings. Their opinions can be sought—which means a foreign player could influence decisions over air talks from which it would be a beneficiary.

“Do you think PAL and Cebu Pacific would be allowed to sit in UAE government discussions?” our insider said. “I think that is pushing the envelope a bit too far.”–Miguel R. Camus

 

Dormant brokers

After cleaning up the roster of listed companies by delisting firms with insufficient public floats, the next housekeeping task of the Philippine Stock Exchange is to tighten the screws on dormant trading participants.

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The PSE announced that it would soon slap a maintenance fee on inactive trading participants—that is, stock brokerage firms—amounting to about P50,000 per month starting Jan. 1, 2015.

This, of course, is akin to banks imposing monetary fines on dormant depositors’ accounts. It may not be much on a monthly basis, but if it runs for years, the amount would be significant. Based on an insider’s estimate, about 50, or less than a third of over 180 trading participants in the PSE are inactive, some of which have been dormant for years.

The PSE said this cleaning up of dormant trading participants was in line with its mandate to impose a fee on the non-operation of trading rights.

Sources said addressing these inactive trading participants was one of the few stones left unturned by the PSE’s former market regulation department, which was eventually spun off to become the independent Capital Markets Integrity Corp.

With this move, the PSE hopes to trim down the list of dormant firms.–Doris C. Dumlao

‘Real COD’ (cause of delay)

Remember that issue about the Philippine Airlines flight that was delayed last Nov. 21 by management to accommodate a special passenger?

Well, the latest information we received—this time from parties sympathetic to the current “ruling party” at the flag carrier—said that the flight in question, PR 306, was delayed not so much due to this special passenger, but due to two other passengers who could not be accounted for.

Mr. Special Passenger (who goes by the surname “Lim”) apparently boarded the flight at 3:07 p.m., even as the flight was scheduled to depart at 2:50 p.m.

But by 3:14 p.m., it was recorded that there were still two missing passengers.

“Apparently, passenger Lim was not the last to board,” said the report from someone inside the airline.

“The reason should have been ‘last minute locating two missing passengers, where one sequence 105 was finally boarded and the other one with sequence 126 was left behind due no-show at the gate,’” the report added.

After a long wait, the decision was finally made at 3:22 to offload the final missing passenger’s checked-in luggage.

“We still incurred a delay due to the ‘load sheet’ amendment where the gender of [another] passenger was not reflected, deferred boarding due to simultaneous arrivals and air traffic control,” it added.

The aircraft was finally pushed back from the gate at 3:37 p.m.—47 minutes after it was supposed to have left—and was finally airborne at 4:12 p.m., or an hour and 22 minutes after the published departure time.

As to the identity of passenger Lim, we understand he is a “million miler” with the airline’s miles membership service and, as such, is accorded certain privileges. This “Lim,” we’re told, is a Chinese-Filipino businessman who is (or was) quite active in the local stock market industry.–Daxim L. Lucas

However…

Despite the official incident report, it seems the Civil Aviation Authority (CAB) is taking the flight delay issue quite seriously.

Stressing that a public utility like scheduled airlines must adhere to strict timetables and protocols, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla promised, in a recent interview, to dig deeper into the incident.

Specifically, CAB wants to know whether airline rules were bent or violated when a late passenger, supposedly with a wrong name on his ticket to boot, was accommodated and given special treatment just because he is a friend of the airline owner’s son-in-law.

To ferret out the truth and prevent the same from happening again, CAB sources said the agency was contemplating on inviting airline employees to shed light on the incident.

It seems CAB’s unusual interest in the delayed flight case stems from reports that their counterparts in the Korean transport ministry were poised to slap up to $2 million (almost P100 million) in fines plus possible criminal investigation against Korean Air after the daughter of its chair caused an 11-minute delay to a New York-Incheon flight when she threw a fit over wrongfully served macadamia nuts.–Daxim L. Lucas

Philex recognized

The country’s largest mining firm, Philex Mining Corp., recently received the “Gold Award” given by The Asset Publishing and Research Ltd, through its Corporate Awards, in Hong Kong last Dec. 11.

Philex Mining joined 21 other Gold Award winners across Asia that were recognized by The Asset, an integrated multi-media company serving financial decision-makers in the region.

The Asset said it used “a range of metrics” on the overall corporate performance to evaluate the winners. It added that the companies were likewise assessed based on the quality of their corporate governance, social responsibility, environmental responsibility and investor relations.

Also this year, Philex Mining clinched the “Security Bank Corporate Governance of the Year” award granted by the Asia CEO Awards, as well as the “Most Promising Companies on Corporate Governance” given by the Corporate Governance Asia, the region’s most authoritative journal on corporate governance.

A beaming Philex Mining CEO Eulalio Austin Jr. said that “awards like these inspire us to further make ourselves better by working harder toward a more responsible mining company.”

Given the company’s focus on excellence, expect more awards to come its way in 2015.–Daxim L. Lucas

E-mail us at bizbuzz@inquirer.com.ph. Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

 

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TAGS: Air Transport, awards and prizes, Biz Buzz, Cebu Pacific, Civil Aviation Authority (CAB), delayed flights, dormant brokers, Emirates, Gold Award, Mining and quarrying, Philex Mining, Philippine Airlines
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