Lawmaker seeks suspension of Cebu Pacific franchise

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Lawmaker seeks suspension of Cebu Pacific franchise over poor service
  • A Cagayan de Oro lawmaker is pushing for the suspension of low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific’s franchise for its “unsatisfactory service to the public”
  • House Resolution No. 1101, filed by Representative Rufus Rodriguez (CDO 2nd District) on June 26 seeks to suspend Cebu Pacific’s franchise granted under Republic Act No. 7151
  • Rodriguez said the principal reason for granting a franchise is for the benefit of the public, but he noted that Cebu Pacific “has a history of unsatisfactory service to the public”

A lawmaker is seeking suspension of Cebu Pacific’s franchise for “unsatisfactory service to the public.”

House Resolution No. 1101, filed by Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on June 26, calls for the suspension of Cebu Pacific’s franchise granted under Republic Act No. 7151.

RA 7151, enacted on August 30, 1991, grants Cebu Air Inc., trading under the name Cebu Pacific Air, a franchise to establish, operate and maintain air transport services for the carriage of passengers, mail, goods and property by air.

Rodriguez said the principal reason for granting a franchise is to benefit the public. But he noted that Cebu Pacific “has a history of unsatisfactory service to the public.”

He said passengers of the low-cost carrier experience flight delays and cancellations, adding that its customer service is “unreliable.”

Other complaints include changing flights of passengers that have already checked in, problems in accessing customer service when claiming for a refund, changing flight details of passengers who are only checking how much rebooking a flight would cost, rude ground personnel, and inadequate or even lack of compensation for inconvenienced passengers.

Rodriguez also cited some of the complaints that were brought up during a June 21 Senate Committee on Tourism hearing on Senate Resolution No. 575, which directed the Committee on Tourism to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the airline passengers’ complaints against Cebu Pacific for overbooking, offloading and booking glitches, with the purpose of calling on the Department of Tourism and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to address these concerns and consider measures on how affected customers should be compensated.

Rodriguez added his wife’s experience whose flight from Cebu to Cagayan de Oro on May 17 was delayed for three hours allegedly “without notice and explanation.” He said his wife, who was with her high school friends for a reunion, were given only one bottle of water and biscuits. Due to the delay, Rodriguez said he waited an extra three hours at Laguindingan Airport for his wife’s flight to arrive.

Further, Rodriguez cited online reports that said the airline’s financial statement revealed revenues from rebooking, refunds, and cancellation fees allegedly grew 270% or P1.45 billion, reaching nearly P2 billion in the first quarter this year.

According to Cebu Pacific’s financial statement, fees on rebooking, refunds, cancellation, etc., which are part of ancillary revenues, reached P1.984 billion in the first quarter of 2023, nearly four times the P536.681 million in the same period last year.

Rodriguez claimed this shows “Cebu Pacific is more interested in more profits than good service to the riding public.”

During the Senate Committee on Tourism hearing on June 21, Cebu Pacific president and chief commercial officer Alexander Lao apologized to passengers for the disruptions and assured them that the carrier is committed to resolving these challenges.

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Lao said the global aviation industry has been hit by issues on Pratt & Whitney engines, which power Airbus A321/A320 NEO aircraft.

The engines require premature removal from service with each engine restoration taking 220 days instead of the 90-day industry norm, Lao explained. As a result, more than 120 aircraft worldwide are now grounded.

Cebu Pacific has had 12 unscheduled engine removals this year; three Airbus A321/A320 NEOs have also been indefinitely grounded since mid-March.

Apart from Pratt & Whitney engine issues, Lao said Cebu Pacific encountered Airbus aircraft delivery delays, with global supply chain issues making the situation worse.

He said the delivery delays require flight schedule revamps and cancellations as well as equipment changes from larger to smaller aircraft. The latter has disrupted some flight schedules causing perceptions of overbooking.

Lao said instead of cancelling flights, Cebu Pacific usually proceeds with voyages but using smaller planes.

Supply chain issues have also become increasingly prominent, he added, leading to extended recovery periods for aircraft on ground. This means aircraft are grounded until they are deemed airworthy and compliant with safety standards.