Cebu Pacific exec issues public apology on Christmas season fiasco

By , on January 21, 2015

Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of Cebu Pacific (photo courtesy of Flight Global)
Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of Cebu Pacific (photo courtesy of Flight Global)

MANILA  — Top honcho of Cebu Pacific on Wednesday issued a public apology following several delayed flights due to alleged overbooking during the Holiday Season last December during the hearing of House of Representatives’ committee on transportation.

Lance Gokongwei, president and chief operating officer of Cebu Pacific Air, told the panel chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento that he is not expecting the shortage of manpower on the ground which causes the long queue of passengers.

“Last Christmas, we let them down. I’m profoundly sorry. We failed them,” Gokongwei told the panel.

The House panel is conducting a congressional probe following allegations that the management of Cebu Pacific allowed the overbooking considering that time that it is already holiday season due to Christmas exodus of those who will be spending their vacation.

The alleged overbooking by the budget airline has resulted to flight delays, cancellations as well as chaos among pissed off passengers on their way to see their families for the holidays.

“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching. Normally, we can recover. On those days, we could not,” said the young Gokongwei.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) whipped Php52 million penalty against Cebu Pacific after they found out that the airline company failed to do their mandate.

However, Gonkongwei insisted that the overbooking is not the primary cause of the holiday fiasco since only one to two percent for the average four percent of passengers who missed their flights were overbooked.

He argued that airlines are allowed to overbook by 10 percent which is a common practice.

Gokongwei cited undermanned operations, absenteeism of staff, as well as Cebu Pacific’s failure to anticipate the effects of the holiday peak season.

“We conservatively overbooked one to two percent… We did not think overbooking is primary cause of the problems we had,” he said.

But Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares questioned CAB’s recommendation that the Php52 million fine will directly go to the National Treasury.

Colmenares said “it is not the government who suffered but the passengers.”

“Why give the money to the government? CAB should order Cebu Pacific to give the fine to the passengers who were affected because of their failure to solve the problem,” Colmenares stressed.

He asked the House panel to invite affected passengers who have been punished by the bad services on the next hearing to get their side and let them air their sentiments.