Zest Air Cleared For Take Off, CAAP Lifts Suspension

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines finally lifted the suspension of Zest Air on Tuesday. The national aviation regulator stated that Zest Air was no longer suspended from flying in Philippine skies after the company was able to successfully address safety concerns raised by government inspectors.

zest air suspension
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The suspension of the Airline Operator's Certificate was officially lifted on Monday evening as confirmed in a text message from John Andrews, CAAP Deputy Director General. He added that three Zest Air aircraft were cleared by CAAP airworthiness inspectors on Tuesday while inspections continued on other aircraft. "As of now, three aircraft has been released for flight," said Andrews. "Other aircraft inspected requires closure on some open items, and will be cleared once closed."

The news was a welcome relief for Zest Air management and staff that have been working constantly over the weekend to manage chaos and accommodate passengers on other flights. According to Joy Caneba, Zest Air Director, the news confirms that the favourable response of CAAP only confirms the carrier's compliance with aviation safety standards.

"This is a relief and welcome news that cooperation between CAAP and the airline is more productive," said Caneba. "This confirms that Zest Air has been operating following the standards required and will continue to do so." Caneba added that in spite of the bad weather, three of Zest's eleven aircraft were cleared to service flights. However, further inspections cannot continue until the weather improves. The airline is now in "rescue" mode to accommodate flights that were affected by the suspension since Friday evening. "We have rescue flights first to accommodate the cancelled flights during the suspension," Caneba said. "We will go back to normal operations as soon as possible, and because of this, we are more determined to be the best player in the market - be bigger and give only the best service to our passengers."

One aircraft is currently being dedicated to China routes as the airline has so many Chinese passengers stranded in Manila. Since CAAP ordered the suspension of Zest Air flights last Friday due to safety breaches, the airline is estimated to have lost at least P70 million in revenues for every day of suspension while 7,600 passengers were affected daily. Andrews met with the President & CEO of Zest Air, Alfredo Yao, on Monday to discuss the suspension. Andrews indicated that the meeting was "fruitful" and that the airline would comply with all of the issues raised by the government inspectors.

According to Yao, the suspension was all a "misunderstanding" and that the airline was already compliant with the government's requests. Yao described the issues raised by CAAP as "minor" and argued that they did not warrant a suspension. He stated that the most serious of the deficiencies cited was the lack of a qualified accountable manager. However, he added that he had assumed the post. "Safety is our primary focus.It is just a misunderstanding with CAAP," said Yao. "We will get through this."

CAAP stated that it was forced to act on its suspension of Zest Air after violations were reported by its inspectors. But given the relatively rapid reinstatement of the carrier's flight operations after only one meeting with CAAP officials, thousands of passengers that were affected by the suspension are wondering if such drastic action was even necessary in the first place and why such formal discussions to address any unresolved issues did not occur prior to the suspension.

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