AIRLINES operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are up in arms over the restriction of some of their access allegedly due to unpaid bills the airport authority is claiming.
Members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) on Thursday questioned the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for selectively slashing the access of some airline personnel from seasonal to daily passes.
The AOC, through the AMA and Paredes Law Firm, has requested the MIAA to reconsider the daily access pass policy against airline personnel and to allow them free and “unimpeded entry into the passenger terminals like before.”
It said the seasonal access passes were allegedly “suspended” following the pending execution of a formal written renewal of a lease agreement.
They added that “due to MIAA’s unjustified, questionable and unsupported claim for unpaid bills (e. g. interest, penalties), some of which date back to the 1970s,” several airline personnel were required to secure monthly, and more recently, daily passes from the MIAA.
In a letter sent to MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado, the AMA and Paredes law firm reminded the airport chief that the affected airline personnel are different from the ordinary office clerical staff who perform trivial tasks.
“Rather, they perform vital tasks to enhance the security and safety of their passengers especially at these times when threats from terrorist groups cannot be taken for granted.
Thus, requiring them to undergo the tedious bureaucratic process of securing the daily access passes into your terminals grossly hampers their security and safety operations,” AMA said.
The law firm said that allowing the AOC personnel what they have been previously enjoying under the seasonal pass arrangement would help them to better perform their tasks that concern public interest.
The AOC sought legal help after their employees’ seasonal passes were withheld by the MIAA because the 30-member airline organization reportedly failed to pay their rental bills.
“Please take note of the fact that these airline companies have been updated in the payment of their current rental payments. They were merely exercising their right to question certain items in their accounts that have no basis to support them,” the AMA told Honrado.
The AMA added that there were commitments between MIAA accounting and the finance offices of the different airline companies to reconcile these accounts.
“But despite their bona fide efforts to comply with the requirements leading to the execution of a formal lease renewal contract, our client and its members were faced with a bureaucratic nightmare. We were also informed that the MIAA will even make representations with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to unjustifiably deny the summer schedule applications of ‘delinquent’ airlines,” the AMA said in the letter.
The firm said that as the head of an important government agency, Honrado should know that there are several legal remedies and proper administrative as well as judicial procedures that ought to be followed to prove his claims.
“Resorting to schemes that curtail these airlines from validly exercising their rights to question unjustified billing items under their lease account as well as free unimpeded access to their leased offices and places of operation can only be tantamount to preventing them from doing something not prohibited by law,” AMA said.
The AOC said Honrado has yet to reply.