The Civil Aeronautics Board ordered low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific to submit within 30 days a concrete plan detailing corrective measures in its operations to prevent further inconvenience to passengers amid the airline’s mass flight cancellations.
CAB said it would issue a stern warning to Cebu Pacific to exercise diligence necessary in maintaining stability and reliability of air transport service to the riding public.
Cebu Pacific applied for cancellation of 172 one-way domestic flights from April 28 to May 10, 2019. This is equivalent to about 14 flights a day, out of its more or less 400 daily domestic flights.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the formulation of a concrete plan would help the whole airline sector to address similar issues that might occur in the future.
“We are hoping that Cebu Pacific will immediately comply with the order to resolve this issue. We would no longer reverse the inconvenience these cancellations have caused. But moving forward, we aim to have more substantial actions so that our passengers will not have to suffer,” Tugade said.
Cebu Pacific said in hearings held on May 2 and May 6 that ongoing efforts to improve on-time performance led to the decision to cancel hundreds of flights.
Tugade also directed the daily publication of airline OTP in major airports nationwide.
Cebu Pacific noted the reasons for the downturn in on-time performance. It explained that the time it takes from the aircraft’s closing of doors to actual lift-off can reach as long as 66 minutes: 19.6 minutes of which is spent from the closing the doors to the “blocks off” or the time the aircraft vacates the parking position; while 46.6 minutes from the blocks off to the lift-off. Meanwhile, the shortest time between the closing of doors and actual lift-off is 49 minutes.
The hour-long stay on the tarmac was observed to have pushed Cebu Pacific’s OTP to an average of 51.16 percent, with lows of around 30 percent in March.
Cebu Pacific said this record impelled the airline to finally come up with the decision to cancel flights. It said that the flight cancellations would “create space” in their flight and crew inventory, “make way for operational recovery” and “minimize rolling delays.” The airline made clear that the factors adversely affecting its OTP are largely within its internal operational sphere.
CAB scrutinized several areas such as airline assets and crew. In terms of assets, CAB found Cebu Pacific adequately equipped. The airline even has among the younger fleets among Philippine carriers. Cebu Pacific is also set to receive three more new aircraft in the future.
For its crew, CAB questioned Cebu Pacific on its compliance with the regulations of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, to which the airline responded affirmatively.
The board was convinced with the scenario that the additional time spent by the on-duty crew on the tarmac consumes the working hours and reserves that were supposed to be utilized at a much later schedule.
Meanwhile, affected passengers’ concerns were found to be handled properly by Cebu Pacific in compliance with the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. Thus, the imposition of penalties was not considered at present.