DOTC eyes probe into airport chaos

NAIA INCONVENIENCE  Passengers queue to check in for their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Friday. Airport authorities will look into complaints of flights being overbooked, delayed or cancelled. PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

Passengers queue to check in for their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Friday. Airport authorities will look into complaints of flights being overbooked, delayed or cancelled. PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

Authorities will look into the chaos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when hundreds of passengers on Christmas Day raged over flight delays and cancellations.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said it was closely monitoring the situation at NAIA’s Terminal 3, which until Friday was crammed with passengers trying to catch their flights.

“We have closely monitored numerous flight cancellations and cases of overbooking during this peak season which have caused inconveniences to the public. [DOTC] Secretary [Emilio Joseph] Abaya coordinated with aviation authorities and airlines yesterday [Thursday] to open more counters and deploy more personnel to assist passengers until the situation stabilizes,” DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said in a text message on Friday.

The check-in counters of Cebu Pacific, one of the country’s leading carriers, were swamped by angry passengers who missed their flights or had to wait for hours before they could board their plane.

“The CAB (Civil Aeronautics Board), MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority), and CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) will convene on Monday to investigate these issues and determine if Cebu Pacific is liable for any violations and whether tighter regulations are necessary,” Sagcal said.

In a television interview, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the agency is “still validating the facts on the ground, whether it is really a result of overbooking because our monitors are saying there are quite a number of issues like there were fewer people at the counters. But we monitor overbooking, and require airlines to report to us the number of overbooked passengers.”

Most of the flights that have been delayed and cancelled were bound for the Visayas and Mindanao.

Carriers are allowed to overbook flights by about 10 percent to compensate for the “no-show” passengers.

In a statement, Cebu Pacific said it experienced “consequential flight delays due to air traffic congestion, compounded by [bad]weather in some regions, which have resulted [in]some flights being cancelled.”

“Our most sincere apologies for what happened,” the airline added.

The airline said it is working double-time to re-accommodate affected passengers on the soonest available flights.

The passengers, it added, could also rebook flights within 30 days from the original departure date, or request a refund.

Cebu Pacific operates a fleet of 52 aircraft.


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  1. No matter what we do towards the airport in Manila weather it is
    International or local specially during this time of the year it will
    never work. our biggest problem is we take and book passengers
    yet we can not serve them at all.

    Too much crowded in Metro Manila and too much clog up due to
    traffic congestion. Build more International Airports combine with
    the local airports through the regions and that will solve the
    problem. Remember that we have closed to 100 Million people
    and still growing witrh closed to 7,100 islands.

    Infrastructure needs to be address to make it work and better system
    to run all this facilities. Again it takes a lot of FUNDS and the Philippine
    Government does not have the Funds to do it. Getting loans from other
    banking institutions from abroad will only make it worst . Marami na
    ang utang natin and the more our ordinary people will only suffer more.

    Maybe it is time to reduce Politics for a while and all should work together
    as one. Then there is hope for our country to be strong economically. .

  2. When you check-in at the NAIA 3, you will notice the chaos at the Cebu Pacific area specially when many passengers are still scattered on long lines before counters which have NO DESTINATION SIGNS! This is the main problem of Cebu Pacific. When closing check-ins, you see an employee going around with a piece of paper or a sign of the destination of the flight about to leave. I have had a bad experience with this unique Cebu Pacific system of having an open counter for all flights to save on counter personnel. I also did shout at the staff although the fault points to the operations officers of the airline. IF ONLY CEBU PACIFIC WILL HAVE A NORMAL COUNTER FOR EACH FLIGHT, THEN, PASSENGERS WILL KNOW WHERE TO FALL IN LINE AND NOBODY WILL MISS ONE’S FLIGHT! Cebu Pacific tries to be unique from the rest of the world’s airlines with this stupid open counter system at the NAIA 3. But how many angry passengers, insults, legal threats, and complaints does Cebu Pacific need to accept the fact that it has to apply the standard requirement for airline check-in: ONE CHECK-IN COUNTER FOR EVERY FLIGHT!

  3. The main problems are lack of investments in infrastructures & people weak productivity, which are made worse during peak seasons.

  4. the 10% no show rate should be adjusted or zeroed during christmas season. airlines can even steal more by selling premium to chance passengers. to feed the greed, even more they can allocate a good percentage during the holidays for chance passengers and charge double the usual.

  5. I agree with the frustrations and comments of the people. In this day of age there should be no chaos at the airport unless there is a fire. The authorities should investigate Cebu Pacific for their negligence. Cebu Pacific should be re-organized and streamlined its operation. There should be business continuity management plan in the event there are disruption. This is not a rocket science and the CEO of Cebu Pacific and the heads of CAA, MIAA, CAAP and DOTC has to investigate and deal with this issue promptly otherwise I will strongly suggest that disciplinary action should be given to the head of the offending agency.

  6. MIAA is partly a contributory cause to this and should be also investigated. .From 48 counters, they reduced the alloted checkin counters to 28 only for Cebu Pacific to accomodate and pamper foreign airlines transferring to t3. With a daily 200 domestic flights and an average of 40,000 domestic passengers daily , booked from the period Dec 23 to 26 for cebu pac alone, that 28 counters will not be enough thus causing traffic and commotion. Cebu Pacific clamor for additional 28 counters for domestic alone but the request was denied by GM Honrado and T3 Mgr Lina. While NAIA 3 unfavorably alloted Delta airlines, ANA, KLM with 14 counters each even with only 1 flight daily out of manila and with only less than 300 pasengers daily. And how could DOTC and NAIA could annoounce that T3 is 100%ready lat Oct when in fact 10 taerobridge are all not operational ( gate 102 to 106, 113, 114, 117, 120) inconveniencing passengers using stairs and all walkalators are not functioning. Lets also MIAA be investigated on this probe and be held liable.

  7. The DOTC is one of the many agencies that have not been given close scrutiny. It has not served its purpose well in providing the transport needs of the riding public. You have seen the chaos in the airport. In bus terminals and in MRT and LRT. People in this agency should be fired for incompetence. I suggest a governing body represented by various representatives of the private sector for this government agency.

    • Correct ka dyan. The agency most responsible for ensuring tha quality of life is the dotc. From communication to transportation.


    The authorities are always late in the investigations. These happened before. It is about time to penalize airlines for over booking. If there are penalties and fines for airlines, this airport fiasco will never happen again.

    Authorities are caught sleeping on the job. NAIIA and other airports should be clean and orderly. This is the face of the Filipinos to the tourists and traveling public.

  9. CAB allows 10% overbooking? is this industry standard? what is the protection of the consumer who books and pays for a ticket thinking he has a 100% guaranteed seat, but actually has only a 90% chance of being accommodated, or has a 10% chance of not getting his seat. saan ang government protection for consumer interest dito?