The government panel investigating widespread complaints of flight delays and cancellations by Cebu Pacific during the recent holiday rush doubts the carrier’s explanations, prompting it to gather its own data such as the number of dislocated passengers, routes affected, and total capacity versus seats sold and flown to determine overbooking.

The panel is composed of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). The CAB has authority to impose fines, suspensions, and even revocation of franchise if warranted.

“What is clear from the panel’s initial report is that Cebu Pacific had an appalling number of delayed flights from December 24 to 26. Cebu Pacific is blaming air traffic congestion, but this does not appear to be supported by the facts,” said Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya.

“Six flights arrived late at NAIA in the early morning of December 24 alone. There was no congestion yet at that time. These incidents of tardiness caused a domino effect of delays throughout the rest of the day. And yet Cebu Pacific claims that it was congestion that caused the mess,” he explained.

“Worse, in the morning of December 26, only two check-in counters for domestic flights were open. It was not until 11:00am that more counters were opened, after CAB and MIAA intervened,” the transport chief added.

According to data submitted by the airline to the panel last December 29, Cebu Pacific had a total of 20 cancelled flights and 288 delayed flights at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 from December 24 to 26. The breakdown submitted by the carrier is as follows:

Flights Out of Manila Dec. 24 Dec. 25 Dec. 26
Scheduled 145 149 145
Added (“Extra Section”) 6 5 5
Cancelled 13 3 4
Flown 138 151 146
Delayed 102 79 107

“The flying public deserves much better service than that. We sympathize with those who lost precious hours with their families and loved ones on Christmas, and we will see to it that Cebu Pacific will answer for any possible mismanagement,” Abaya warned.

 Source: Public Information Division, DOTC