Airlines hail gov’t move for airports to open 24/7
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Foreign and local airlines on Friday welcomed the government’s decision to stop charging airlines for the overtime pay of customs and other personnel manning airports and to adopt a 24/7 operation as practiced worldwide, saying this would make the country more competitive and hence attractive to business and tourists.
“This singular act speaks volumes in terms of governance. An airport is a gateway to the country and its services, including the enforcement of customs laws, are the responsibility of the government, not the airlines,” said lawyer Bayani Agabin, spokesperson of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR).
Last month, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told customs officials that international airports would go 24/7 instead of the present 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift and directed them to submit their manpower requirements for budget purposes.
Purisima’s move also resolved the dispute between BAR and airport customs personnel who have even included their meals and transportation in their overtime charges.
“The amount charged to airlines are excessive because if four airlines land, they charge four times for overtime, meals and transportation for the same hour that they serve,” Agabin said.
The feud between the airlines and airport customs worsened after the latter decided to double their charges in 2005, Agabin said.
Customs officials explained that the increase was due to the doubling of the exchange rate to around P50 to a dollar then from around P25 in the mid-’90s.
Told that customs people do not spend in dollars, they replied that it was irrelevant since airlines earn in dollars.
The question now, he said, is whether the airport customs people would comply with Purisima’s order.
“This issue was already resolved by former Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez who ordered a 24/7 shifting operations at the airport effective January 2011. Incumbent Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon also supports 24/7 shifting operations as part of P-Noy’s ‘matuwid na daan’ so it was a surprise why airport customs recently sent new billings for overtime, meals and transportation,” he said.
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