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Just a plaque of lies

/ 12:20 AM September 17, 2015

OFFICIALS of the Civil Aeronautics Board just told some outright brazen lies to the public.

Earlier reports said the CAB had held new “air talks” with two foreign airlines, namely, Emirates and Etihad, both based in the United Arab Emirates, which boasts of a total population of 1.4 million.

Emirates and Etihad reportedly demanded additional flights to Manila, on top of the 28 weekly flights that they already enjoy under an air agreement with the CAB that was done as recently as 2012, or just little more than two years ago.


Concerns ran high in Congress and in the business sector over the, well, ah, rather “convincing” power of Emirates and Etihad in lobbying for new air entitlements in Manila, because it seemed that the two always got what they wanted from the CAB.

Lo and behold, when the recent talks between UAE and the Philippines ended, CAB officials hailed the results as 1) fair, and 2) good for the Philippines. They said that because it would force Emirates and Etihad also to fly to airports in Clark and in Cebu.

In fact, one report, er, “friendly” to the UAE airlines, even volunteered the information that the two UAE carriers would lose the additional flights, if they would not fly to Clark or to Cebu within a year.

Really now—and so those CAB officials should get gold plated plaques for some heroic deeds—was that it?

From what I gathered, the air agreement between UAE and the Philippines would give Emirates and Etihad some 35 weekly flights to Manila, from only 28 under the two-year-old agreement that Aquino (Part II) administration deemed obsolete, because the two UAE airlines said so.

The mother of all lies given to the public by our heroic CAB officials had something to do with the CAB appeasement to the lawmakers who made a lot of media noise about the new air talks.

You see, they warned that if the Aquino (Part II) administration would bow down to the intense high-budget lobby of the UAE, the CAB should better require those two foreign airlines to also fly to Cebu and Clark.

That, according to the CAB officials, was what precisely the new agreement accomplished.


Except that it was a big lie. The truth is that the new agreement will not—again “not”—require either Emirates or Etihad to mount direct flights to Clark or Cebu, or any airport other than Manila, for that matter. Really, the supposed “condition” on the UAE airlines to fly to Clark or Cebu was actually a hoax.

True, based on the new agreement, Emirates and Etihad must fly to “at least one point in the Philippines other than Manila.”

But there was one hidden weird condition: Those two airlines must have at least 21 flights per week to Manila, and then they would be required to fly to the other points.

Now, as I said, the new agreement also gave Emirates and Etihad a total of 35 weekly flights. Simple math would tell us that, if you divide 35 flights between the two UAE airlines, it would be mathematically impossible to get 21 flights a week for both.

Since the weekly flights given by CAB to those two foreign airlines, just by a stroke of luck, would fall a little shy of the magic “21” flights, the same agreement would ensure that the Philippine side could never fulfill the absurd condition.

From what I heard, one Philippine government official that was reportedly also a member of the CAB board was present throughout the air talks. Our sources in CAB insisted that the official was not even supposed to be a member of the panel.

But word also went around business circles that the official actually had longstanding connections to foreign airlines.

Did our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS, even know about all the lobbying in the CAB during the talks, considering that he, as the President of the Republic, under the law, must approve the participation of anybody in the air talks?

To think, inspiration for the recent air talks came from Emirates, the world’s biggest airline, and it did not surprise anybody that Emirates got the better half of the new deal with the Aquino (Part II) administration.

To think, Emirates has been an infamous violator of Philippine laws, operating unauthorized flights for sale to the Filipino public, a violation which actually lasted for three months from November 2014 to January 2015.

And what did the CAB do? Well, the CAB imposed a stiff penalty on Emirates for a total of P1.8 million.

Our flag carrier Cebu Pacific Air, in comparison, had to pay some P52 million in fines for what the CAB claimed to be violations that lasted for three days during the Christmas peak period.

There—the CAB in all its wisdom fined a rich lobbying foreign airline some P1.8 million for three months of willful violations, even defying the direct orders of the CAB, while it fined a Filipino airline some P52 million for three days of service problems.

The same rich foreign airline even got a reward of new lucrative entitlements in the recent air talks, for which our very own CAB, or at least its officials, gave the public a big pack of lies.

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