Skyjet grounds fleet for safety compliance
The operator of SkyJet Airlines voluntarily grounded its fleet on Thursday, weeks after a Pasig Regional Trial Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) from enforcing a suspension order issued May 18 this year.
SkyJet president Dino Chua, in a June 3, 2015 letter addressed to CAAP, apologized to the agency and said the company would ground its aircraft operations starting June 4, 2015 “to give way for the revaluation/inspection and assessment” of CAAP’s safety team.
He added that the carrier would withdraw its case filed with the Pasay RTC, including a “damage claim” valued at P20 million.
In the letter, Chua said the company “fully understands that safety and security is paramount to CAAP.”
“We also recognize the power and authority of the director general (William K Hotchkiss lll) to ensure safety above all,” he said.
As noted, CAAP ordered the suspension of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of leisure airline Magnum Air, operator of SkyJet last May 18.
CAAP cited various safety “observations” following a recent visit by the European Union Assessment Team, which conducted an audit of several airlines from April 16 to 24, 2015.
But on May 22, 2015, Skyjet resumed its operations after Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Branch 119 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day TRO stopping the CAAP from enforcing the suspension.
The AOC is an approval granted by CAAP to aircraft operators, allowing them to use their aircraft for commercial purposes.
Skyjet, in its letter, said it was already moving to comply with the so-called comprehensive enhanced corrective actions related to its flight data monitoring, quality assurance, air worthiness, and maintenance control.
“We are also pleading for the immediate lifting of our suspension order as soon as the compliance and corrective actions are acceptable,” Chua said.
Apart from SkyJet, CAAP also suspended the AOC of low-cost carrier SEAIR International Inc. last month.
Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board showed that both suspended carriers, which were recently established, corner a small slice of the domestic market. Seair International carried 2,012 passengers in 2014 while Skyjet carried 9,367 passengers.
That compares with about 20.35 million domestic passengers carried in 2014, most of which were served by Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific Air and the local units of Malaysia’s Air Asia Berhad.
The current operations of Seair International, based in Clark International Airport, were recently launched to mainly serve Boracay and Palawan. Skyjet, which started in December 2012, according to its website, started with charter flights to Batanes island. Skyjet flies from Terminal 4 of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and also serves Busuanga, Coron and Caticlan, Boracay.
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