CAB power over CEB fine ‘limited’
MANILA, Philippines–The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) clarified the limits of its power over a fine imposed on Cebu Pacific due to the recent Christmas fiasco in Manila, after lawmakers suggested the agency should ensure that affected passengers be compensated as well.
CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla was referring to the P52.1-million fine it ordered Cebu Pacific to pay after it determined that the carrier was at fault for delays and flight cancellations that affected 10,400 passengers from Dec. 24 to 26.
Cebu Pacific said it was still studying the fine, which will be remitted to the National Treasury.
Arcilla reiterated that passengers, with its assistance, can seek “satisfaction of their rights from the airline” or they can pursue a legal case.
“The CAB is an administrative agency invested with authority under its charter to oversee the aviation industry, through the issuance of pertinent orders and regulations,” Arcilla said.
“However, it may not be within the prerogative of the CAB under its limited jurisdiction to assess a situation as the Dec 24 to 25 event, and determine compensation, in a manner that is akin to an adjudication of rights and award of damages that properly pertains to the courts of law,” he added.
“If the airlines fail to satisfy the claims of the passengers in accordance with the rules, passengers may seek the assistance of the CAB in the enforcement of the rules and/or go to court to obtain redress,” Arcilla said.
The 2012 Air Passenger Bill of Rights outlines how passengers can be compensated. Specifically, a delay of at least six hours grants a passenger either a free rebooking or refund on top of “compensation” equal to the value of the ticket, Arcilla said.
He noted that the events from Dec. 24 to 26 “required the application of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights.”
“Therefore, the immediate reaction of the CAB while the Dec 24 to 25 event was unfolding was to issue an advisory admonishing Cebu Pacific to faithfully adhere to the requirements of the APBR, and to go out of its way to ensure the protection of its passengers,” Arcilla said.
Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei, who issued an apology to passengers during a hearing by the House of Representatives Transportation Committee last week, said a fine was warranted but the amount may be studied.
“We are waiting for our final legal advice as [whether] the basis of the amount should be discussed because of the serious precedents it may set for other issues,” Gokongwei said.
The CAB penalty was based on a P5,000 fine per affected passenger, the CAB earlier said. The amount per violation was the maximum allowed under the Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines of 1952. Miguel R. Camus
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