Cebu Pacific Pays P52 million Fine Imposed by Civil Aeronautics Board

Cebu Pacific, the nation's largest low-cost carrier has paid a P52.11 million fine that was imposed by the Civil Aeronautics Board for cancellations and flight delays during the Christmas season. But the fine was deposited directly to the national treasury, without any compensation for passengers.

Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to Carmelo Arcilla, Executive Director of the Civil Aeronautics Board, Cebu Pacific paid the amount in full. "The amount was directly deposited by the Civil Aeronautics Board in the account of the national treasury in accordance with the rules," said Arcilla.

Cebu Pacific was fined under the rules imposed by Republic Act 776: The Civil Aeronautics Act of the Philippines. The hefty fine was triggered by an influx of complaints from passengers over flight delays and cancellations that occurred during the busy Christmas travel period from December 24 to 26.

It is estimated that nearly 10,400 passengers were affected by the service breakdown, which Cebu Pacific blamed on inadequate staffing caused by staff that did not report for work. The Civil Aeronautics Board imposed a fine of P5,000 for each affected passenger. But the aviation regulator stated that it has no power to force the budget airline to compensate passengers.

The Civil Aeronautics Board is responsible for enforcing the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, which defines and protects the interests of passengers travelling in the Philippines. But the regulator stated that it is the responsibility of passengers to seek their own compensation. Lawmakers in the Philippines have argued that the Civil Aeronautics Board has failed to protect the rights of passengers and enforce the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, suggesting that the regulator is placing too much responsibility onto powerless passengers without making any meaningful efforts to intervene. 

Earlier this month, Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific, issued a public apology during a congressional hearing and promised to take action in order to improve service to passengers. According to Cebu Pacific's Corporate Affairs Officer, Paterno Mantaring, the budget carrier plans to closely work with government regulators in order to ensure that the best interests of passengers are served. But for some passengers, it's too little, too late. 

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