Cebu Pacific chief executive and president Lance Gokongwei apologized on Wednesday over the delays and cancelled flights that caused inconvenience to passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) during holiday season.
“Today, 6 of 10 Filipinos choose to fly with Cebu Pacific when they travel within the Philippines. In 2014, we carried almost 17 million passengers to, from, and within our country. I am humbled by their trust that Filipinos and foreign tourists place on Cebu Pacific to take them safely home to their destinations,” Gokongwei said before lawmakers and aviation authorities during the hearing of the transportation committee at the House of Representatives.
“Last Christmas, we let them down and I am profoundly sorry that we failed them,” he added.
The budget airline president cited many factors that caused the problem including inclement weather, absenteeism of ground personnel, failure of ground handler to fulfill services and air traffic congestion.
He, however, emphasized that absenteeism is the root of the issue.
“We were faced with unprecedented absenteeism which created a chaotic situation at our check-in counters,” the Cebu Air chief said. “We simply had too few agents to handle the many passengers waiting to check in.”
To address the concerns that affected their services, Gokongwe said the airline did “a lot of soul searching.”
“After the events of last Christmas, we had done a lot of soul searching… Normally we can recover from such issues as they are daily occurrence for any airline. On those days, we cannot. While we did our best…our service was found wanting,” he said.
He also said that CebuPac has implemented measures to prevent a repeat of the December fiasco and that they are determined to win back the trust of the public.
“Cebu Pacific had always been acutely aware of its obligations as a public utility. The events of last Christmas had only increased our determination to win back the trust of our passengers,” Gokongwei said.
The airline was fined P52 million by the government for the holiday fiasco.
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla explained that the penalty was computed at P5,000 for each of the 10,422 passengers affected by the flight delays and cancellations of the country’s biggest airline carrier.
The amount however will go to the national coffers not to the passengers.
Gokongwei said that they understand that the airline will face a penalty, but they will seek legal advice on the accuracy of the amount.