AIRLINE COMPANIES WARNED AGAINST ‘SLOT MISUSE’

Now, operators of airline companies utilizing the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals are set to face more stringent sanctions should they engage in misuse of airport slots.

This development comes on the heels of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2019-01 signed by Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco and Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla and noted by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Manuel Antonio Tamayo.

JMC 2019-01 aims for the efficient utilization of airport slots to help decongest the NAIA. It spells out an expansion of the scope of efficient use of slots under JMC 2016-01 which was signed by the same agencies in July 2016 to ease airline congestion at the four terminals of NAIA.

Under the said circular, the definition of ‘slot misuse’ has been expanded to cover the holding of slots that the airline does not intend to operate, as well as the holding of slots for an operation other than planned, for the purpose of denying capacity to another aircraft operator.

Also constituting slot misuse are the requisition of new slots that the airline does not intend to operate and the requisition of slots for an operation other than indicated, with the intention of gaining improved priority.

In the  said JMC, the Timeslot Committee (TC) reviews the slot coordinator’s findings of the slot monitoring performance of airlines. The slot coordinator is then tasked to initiate any disciplinary action against an airline that intentionally misuses its allocated slots.  Stricter sanctions will be imposed to provide teeth in the implementation of efficient slot utilization.

An airline that operates services without the corresponding timeslots, on a regular basis, will not be entitled to historical precedence for either the actual times they operated or for the allocated times. Further, an airline that continues to misuse or inefficiently use timeslots may be relegated to a lower priority in future slot allocations.

Now if an airline, despite being sanctioned, continues to misuse or inefficiently use timeslots, the TC shall have the authority to recall slot approval and/or suspend or cancel slot allocations of the erring airline.

DOTr  Secretary Arthur Tugade commended Monreal, CAAP and CAB on the issuance of the JMC, noting it is high time for airlines to take responsibility.

He stressed: ‘Landing on an airport is a privilege. To intentionally disregard the value of these airport slots is unethical and an aggravation to the current state of congestion at NAIA. We have to recognize the domino effects of these slot misuses, which ultimately result in the massive inconvenience to our air passengers.’

Recent years saw a substantial increase in the number of passengers, flights, and airport slots per hour at the NAIA, resulting in a compounded state of congestion.

Before 2016, NAIA passenger traffic stood at 36.5 million. The figure swelled to 45 million, or an increase of 8.4 million passengers or 23.08 percent by 2018. During the same period, the number of flights also grew by over 14,000 (5.75percent).  Consequently, airport slots per hour increased by 22.2 percent from 36 to 44.

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