SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday directed Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) officials to put their operations in order within 45 days and warned airlines to comply with government rules or face possible cancellation of their franchises.
During the hearing of the Committee on Transportation, Alvarez said MIAA should take appropriate steps to decongest passenger and air traffic.
He noted that it is only in the Philippines where mixed use of airports is allowed, where airports designed for domestic traffic also handle international flights while airports designed for international flights also take in domestic flights.
“Hindi pwede ngayon yan. Kung ano yung tama yun ang gawin natin. So kung domestic yan, domestic yan. Ngayon kung kulang, so be it. Ilipat mo sa Clark yung ibang flights,” Alvarez said.
He said the main concern of airport authorities should be the safety, comfort and convenience of the riding public.
He noted that there is a big difference in the design between a domestic and an international airport.
“Yung domestic terminal walang provision for immigration. Kaya pag may dumadating (na international flight) sa Terminal 2 ang haba ng pila. Doon naman sa Terminal 3 na dinesign with provision for immigration eh wala naman gumagamit, kasi ginagamit na domestic,” Alvarez said.
He also said that if necessary airport authorities should divert flights to other airports such as Clark International Airport to ease the congestion at NAIA.
“So halimbawa hindi mo na kayang i-accommodate yan, tanggihan mo na, tama na. And that way male-lessen natin yung traffic even sa runways. Because no matter how we build terminals, if the runway cannot accommodate wala rin, it’s useless. So siguro i-reduce mo na yung flights,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez gave MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal 45 days to implement the directive.
“You know the reason why I also invited the chairman of the franchise committee? Because yung mga ayaw sumunod sa rules and regulations ng gobyerno, we can always cancel your respective franchises. And we are not joking. We are not threatening anybody. We are serious in promoting the safety, comfort and convenience of the public,” Alvarez said.
Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific, Inc. president, told the committee it might take at least a year for his company to comply with such directive.
“Respectfully, sir, given the way we sell tickets one year in advance and also the time it requires to move all our people and (do) the ground preparations, I think these drastic steps may take over a year of planning,” Gokongwei said.
However, Alvarez is adamant on the 45-day deadline. He urged the committee to form an oversight body to evaluate what would be accomplished at the end of the deadline.
“Kasi kung hindi natin uumpisahan yan ngayon walang mangyayari. Pero kung gagawin natin kaya naman siguro,” Alvarez said.
Meanwhile, Alvarez also lashed at the cost-cutting practice of airlines—Cebu Pacific, in particular—that allowed them to enjoy huge profits at the expense of the passengers. One of this is the refusal of Cebu Pacific to use the passenger bridge—also known as the tube—even if available.
“I’ve seen it myself. May tube, hindi ninyo ginamit. Kawawa yung pasahero dala-dala yung anak. Umuulan, basang basa yung bata. Pinagalitan ko yung flight attendant. Sabi niya sir wala akong magagawa yun ang utos ng management, hindi gagamit ng tube,” Alvarez said.
He refused to buy the explanation of Gokongwei that it is not the policy of Cebu Pacific not to use the passenger bridge.
“Pinapag-lakad nila yung mga pasahero, bababa-aakyat. So pano yung mga disabled, pano yung matatatanda, paano yung maysakit? Imbes na komportable sila na sumakay sa eroplano by using the tube—kasi diretso yan—bumababa pa. Tapos aakyat sila ulit. Eh tama ba yun? Ang concern lang nila is profit, dahil nga mura nga naman yung babayaran nila: parking fee lang, walang tacking fee,” Alvarez said.
Likewise, Alvarez also accused Cebu Pacific for failing to provide appropriate refund to passengers who failed to board their flights.
“Pag hindi nakasakay yung pasahero—subukan ninyo kahit kayo mismo—forfeited, wala na yung ibinayad mo. Wala na, walang refund yan, at saka pati yung terminal fee hindi na nila ibinabalik sa iyo. Subukan nyo kung isosoli sa inyo yung binayad na terminal fee. Karamihan ng pasahero hindi alam nandoon na yung terminal fee kasama doon sa ticket,” Alvarez said.
He reminded the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Manila International Airport Authorty that their primary concern is to promote the welfare of the passengers and not the concern of the airlines.
“Bakit ninyo pinapayagan yan? Hindi pwedeng ganyan dahil kayo ang regulatory agencies. Kailangan yung concern ng public yun ang i-promote natin, hindi yung concern ng mga airline companies,” Alvarez said.
He noted that in the past airlines have managed to defy the regulations because they were banking on their connections at Malacañang.
“Dati kasi nagagawa nila yan dahil nagpapalakas nila sa Presidente. E ngayon hindi po ganun ang ating Pangulo. Kailangan ayusin natin yung ating bansa.,” Alvarez said.