MANILA — Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares over the weekend welcomed the reduction of fuel charges in airline fees announced by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).
However, this will not exempt the airline companies and CAB from the congressional hearing this January on his resolution to investigate the dismal service of airline companies and CAB’s failure to protect the public from exorbitant rates.
Colmenares previously scolded airline companies and CAB in a privilege speech as early as Dec. 15, 2014 as he filed House Resolution 1780 to investigate the Dec. 25-26 fiasco, which resulted in massive delays and cancellation of flights.
“Fuel prices have fallen by more than 40% since June of 2014 and is in fact prices less than USD 50 per barrel now but there has been no corresponding decrease in air fares until the public raised this issue to CAB’s attention. Airline companies always used rising fuel cost as reason for high fuel surcharges but since oil prices plummeted they have not decreased their airfares. Worse, airline services have remained dismal,” said Colmenares.
“Overbooking, cancellation of flights, delays, refusal to compensate affected passengers, these are just some of the violations of passengers rights committed by airline companies such as Cebu Pacific. Worse, the CAB which is supposed to regulate the airline industry has practically allowed these companies to get away with it for a long time,” he said.
He said that while it was correct to take out fuel surcharges in airfares, CAB must still answer for its inaction for a long period of time.
“It cannot act as regulator only if the public exposes anomalies in the airline industry, and it must be held to account for the hundreds of millions of pesos lost by the passengers as a result of high fuel surcharges despite plummeting oil prices” the Deputy Minority Leader said.
“The government issued Joint Administrative Order to protect airline passengers’ rights remained toothless and ineffective. I am glad Rep. Cesar Sarmiento has agreed to hear my privilege speech and Resolution on January 20, 2015 so we can hale these airlines, the CAB and DOTC to the congressional hearing. We ask the public to attend the public hearing and voice their complaints to the officials concerned. It’s about time we get to the bottom of the issue otherwise this will continue to recur every year to the loss and injury of the public,” Colmenares said.