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Heavy sanctions await air operators violating COVID-19 protocols

  • New joint guidelines released imposing sanctions on air transport operators that will violate COVID-19-related protocols
  • Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines eyes fines ranging from P300,000 to P500,000 for each violation of air travel protocols
  • Any air carrier that violates orders attached to the Civil Aeronautics Board permit subject to a fine, suspension or revocation of the permit
  • For Manila International Airport Authority  and Clark International Airport Corp., any airline whose passenger numbers exceed the allowed number per flight will be penalized P10,000 per excess passenger

Penalties of up to P500,000, the revocation of permit, and recall of slot approval are just some of the sanctions awaiting air transport operators that will be found violating COVID-19-related directives and protocols, according to key aviation authorities.

The guidelines on the imposition of sanctions are contained in Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2021-01 dated January 8, 2021 and signed and issued by four aviation agencies.

These are the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

JMC 2021-01 reminds all scheduled air operators that to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease, they must strictly observe the advisories, orders, rules and regulations issued in relation to COVID-19-related protocols and guidelines.

It noted that Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, issued in July 2020, allows the regulation and limitation of all land, sea and air transport operations, whether private or public, to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak, mitigate economic losses stemming from the pandemic, and accelerate the recovery of the Philippine economy.

For CAAP, a fine ranging from P300,000 to P500,000 will be imposed for each violation  of the provisions or issuances duly mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), National Task Force Against COVID-19, and CAAP regarding pandemic-related travel protocols and restrictions. This is pursuant to the penal provisions under Republic Act (RA) No. 9497 (Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008).

Under CAAP Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 03-2021, which implements JMC 2021-01, the first offense will only be met with a written warning/reprimand. However, subsequent offenses will be imposed with the following sanctions:

  • Second offense – P300,000
  • Third offense – P400,000
  • Fourth offense – P500,000
  • Fifth offense – Suspension, cancellation, revocation of certificate

Any decision of the CAAP director general to impose a sanction may be appealed before the CAAP Board, whose decision will be final.

For CAB, any air carrier that violates or fails to comply with any CAB directives, or with any of the advisories, orders, rules, or regulations, or terms and conditions attached to the CAB permit or the obligations incumbent upon the air carrier, will be subject to a fine, suspension or revocation of permit.

An airline that continues to commit violations may also be relegated to a lower priority in future slot allocations, its slot approval recalled, or its slot allocations suspended. This is pursuant to the Revised Guidelines for Filing and Approval of Timeslots and JMC 2019-01 (Expanded scope of efficient use of slots).

For MIAA and CIAC, any airline whose passenger numbers will exceed the allowed number per flight as monitored by One-Stop-Shop Repatriation (OSS Repat) Group will be penalized P10,000 per excess passenger, unless otherwise allowed by the OSS Repat Group.

Continuous and excessive violation of COVID-19 directives and protocols will also merit the appropriate sanction as may be determined by the appropriate agency.

The IATF currently issues resolutions on COVID-19 policies and protocols that are implemented by agencies such as CAAP, CAB, MIAA, and CIAC. – Roumina Pablo

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