Airline black eye | Inquirer Business
Biz Buzz

Airline black eye

/ 11:10 PM August 13, 2013

Don’t look now, but another budget airline has experienced aircraft “issues” that have inconvenienced air travelers from other carriers.

According to our aviation source, flights to and from the Tagbilaran airport in Bohol were suspended Tuesday after an Airbus A320 belonging to Zest Air encountered some problems on the ramp… and ended up obstructing the adjacent runway.

It remains unclear what afflicted the Zest Air plane, but what was clear was that hundreds of passengers were inconvenienced since authorities had to suspend all flights to the city that serves as the gateway to the tourist magnet that is Bohol. In fact, several inbound flights that were already in the air were diverted to nearby Cebu.


As of Tuesday afternoon, a “go team” from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and a Zest Air maintenance crew were preparing to fly to Bohol on a chartered Beechcraft King Air (which can land using less runway length) to assess the situation and whether the runway could be cleared for regular operations.


Given the string of problems experienced by budget carriers lately—including Zest Air, which was placed by regulators under “heightened monitoring”—it looks like CAAP was right to put the local airline industry under the 40-minute aircraft turnaround rule. Hopefully, longer ground time will prevent airlines from cutting corners that may compromise safety.Daxim L. Lucas


After the initial confusion as to which party caused the spill of diesel fuel off the coast of Rosario, Cavite—whether it was the fuel depot or the tanker—Petron Corp. quickly confessed and took responsibility for the accident.

Initially, management of the petroleum giant was incredulous as to how the diesel (estimated by the Coast Guard to be in the vicinity of 500,000 liters) could have leaked from their underwater pipeline, given that the hole they found had the diameter of a cigarette butt. Management still believed that the actual leak was significantly lower than the initial estimate, but it lost no time in moving to contain the incident.

One source Biz Buzz spoke with said the company’s resources were now being mobilized to mitigate the effects of the leak, starting with an assistance program for the affected community of Rosario. So far, two medical missions have been sent to the area (made up of seven barangays) to check on the health of the residents, and about 700 people have so far availed themselves of the services.

In addition, about two kilometers of Rosario’s shoreline have been cleaned through the efforts of some 100 volunteers from the local community and Petron personnel.


Soil and water samples were also being taken daily in the affected areas to monitor the progress of the diesel fuel’s dissipation.

And it does not look like the engagement will stop there. To win back the community’s trust, Petron is in the process of formulating a more comprehensive rehabilitation program for the area, as well as for residents whose livelihoods (mainly fishing) have been affected.

Granted that these are remedial measures, but the speedy response is a lot better than flat out denials we have heard from other firms during industrial accidents. Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Business, column, Petron, Zest Air

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