PASSENGERS of a Cebu City bound plane had first to endure the lack of air conditioning after a takeoff delay before they were transferred to another aircraft, but not after they grumbled and demanded to be deplaned.
The mounting public outcry against Cebu Pacific Air (CEB), a budget carrier notorious for flight delays, came after a video of the incident was posted on the internet on Friday. This reluctantly prompted the CEB management to issue an apology to all passengers who were inconvenienced by their plane’s lack of air conditioning and the two-hour delay.
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience these incidents may have caused and appeal for understanding,” the CEB said.
The CEB explained that the delay was due to the failure of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to immediately clear on time the debris on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway. It added that the plane was supposed to depart at 5:05 pm.
“Following reports from our crew that the cabin temperature was warm, Cebu Pacific decided to change the aircraft for the comfort of our passengers,” the CEB said in a statement. It also claimed that the CEB cabin crew and ground personnel assisted all passengers and handled the transfer to the replacement aircraft.
According to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Aviation Undersecretary Capt. Antonio Manuel Tamayo, he started to investigate the incident after he saw on line the video of the suffering passengers.
Tamayo said CEB Flight 5J575 bound for Cebu City, was delayed and that its passengers had to endure the delay inside the quickly warming cabin of an Airbus A320 plane, which was already sitting on the tarmac under the sweltering afternoon heat.
Moreover, he learned that it was the passengers who forced the cabin crew to allow them to deplane especially after one of the passengers reportedly fainted because of the rising temperature in the cabin.
The MIAA said delayed CEB flight continued its journey with a replacement aircraft which departed Manila at about 7:32 pm. and landed safely in Cebu at 8:52 pm.
Meanwhile, Tamayo has instructed the Civil Aernautics Board (CAB) “to look into this and act accordingly.”
The DOTr-CAB statement said warned that if Cebu Pacific went beyond the prescribed two-hour period to deplane its passengers due to long tarmac delays, the airline “shall be held liable for the penalty prescribed under the regulation.”
Furthermore, if found to have violated the regulation, the pilot shall likewise be held liable as he has the obligation to order the deplaning. The CAB shall endorse the case of the pilot to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for appropriate action, since the latter exercises jurisdiction over airmen.”
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