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Friday, July 26, 2024

CdO’s Rodriguez files bill to shelve Cebu Pacific’s legislative franchise

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Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Monday made good on his promise to file a resolution seeking the suspension of airline Cebu Pacific’s legislative franchise as punishment for its “terrible” service.

In a still unnumbered resolution filed at the House of Representatives last Saturday, Rodriguez said the principal reason for the grant by Congress to a private company “is for the benefit of the public.”

However, he said Cebu Pacific “has a history of unsatisfactory service to the public.”

In a statement, the Gokongwei-owned airline said: “We are aware of the Congressional resolutions which have been filed at the House of Representatives.”

“Following the recent Senate hearing, we have taken serious note of the issues raised therein and are currently in the process of implementing various measures in support of our passengers,” Cebu Pacific spokesperson Carmina Romero said.

“We look forward to sharing these (notes) to our lawmakers in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration so that the industry can continue to contribute its share to the overall effort in accelerating tourism and economic growth in our country,” Romero added.

“We remain committed to providing access to safe, affordable, and reliable flights to all our passengers,” she said.

Last week, senators chided local airlines following complaints by airline passengers about overbooking, offloading, and booking glitches.

At a hearing of the Senate tourism committee, senators took turns in attacking Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, among others for the inconveniences and damage being caused to passengers.

They also bewailed the apparent inaction of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to sanction violations committed by airlines against their passengers.

Senator Nancy Binay, the committee chairperson, said passengers face inconveniences on multiple fronts on account of flight delays, cancellations, offloading, and overbooking.

“Our airlines are a key partner in achieving our goal of making tourism soar again. But how are we to expect to reach our targets with the way things are going now?” Binay said.

Senator Grace Poe said she believes relevant government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, should also be blamed for the state of affairs.

Rodriguez said in his resolution: “Passengers of Cebu Pacific experience flight delays and cancellations, and to make matters worse, their customer service is also unreliable with passengers complaining that Cebu Pacific does provide immediate assistance or support regarding their concerns despite seeking help from the airline’s customer service hotlines and in-person help desks.”

He said some passengers aired their complaints during last week’s Senate hearing, with one saying “how bad they were treated by Cebu Pacific on their return flight to Manila from Tokyo on June 5 when the flight was delayed due to ‘noise problems from the aircraft’s engine’.”

The passenger claimed they were given different reasons for the delay, and they were left without food and any commitment for accommodation while waiting for their flight, forcing them to sleep on the floor of Narita International Airport in Japan, Rodriguez added.

The Mindanao lawmaker noted that another passenger told senators that she nearly missed her dentistry board exam when her flight from Dumaguete City to Manila on May 1 was moved four days later.

This same passenger also stated that she was surprised to learn that her aunt, who was in Australia, was able to buy a ticket for a Cebu Pacific flight, which cost more than P10,000, on the morning of May 2, he said.

“This shows that seats are available to highest paying customers even though there are a lot of passengers bumped off by delayed flights waiting,” Rodriguez said.

He said other complaints include changing flights of passengers who have already checked in, problems accessing customer service when claiming refunds, changing flight details of passengers who only check how much rebooking a flight would cost, rude ground personnel, and inadequate or even lack of compensation for inconvenienced passengers.

He also cited the grievances of his own constituents in Cagayan de Oro City, including the Waga family (Celeste Waga Hembrador, Lorimer Hembrador, Oriel Pete Waga, Madeline Waga, Ray Marcos Waga, and Divina Waga), who were booked on a flight from Cagayan de Oro to Manila last May 25 at around 6 a.m.

“Their flight was canceled without explanation which forced them to rebook their flights on their own. They were able to rebook to a Cagayan de Oro to Manila via Cebu that same day, which flight was to leave Cagayan de Oro at 3 p.m., to connect to the Cebu-Manila flight at 7 p.m., which was also delayed to 11p p.m. They arrived at midnight in Manila,” he said.

What was supposed to be a 1.5-hour flight to Manila from Cagayan de Oro took the Wagas almost one whole day, he stressed.

Rodriguez also cited his family’s own sad experience with Cebu Pacific.

He said his wife Fenina, together with seven of her high school classmates (some from the US), took a Cebu Pacific flight from Cebu to Cagayan de Oro to attend their class reunion last May 17, which flight was delayed for three hours without notice and explanation.

“They were given only one bottled water and biscuits,” he said.

He said he waited for “an additional three hours in Laguindingan Airport before meeting them upon their late arrival.”

“Reports online show that Cebu Pacific’s financial statement reveals that revenues from rebooking, refunds, and cancellation fees allegedly grew by 270 percent or P1.45 billion, reaching nearly P2 billion in the first quarter of this year, showing that Cebu Pacific is more interested in more profits than good service to the riding public,” he said.

Rodriguez emphasized that all these complaints should prompt Congress to suspend the airline’s legislative franchise until it improves its service to the satisfaction of the riding public.

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