A Win-Win Bill of Rights
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The first public hearing on the Passenger Bill of Rights was recently held, with Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas and Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo presiding, at the DOTC head office in Mandaluyong City. The hearing was meant to strike a balance between the interest of airline companies and passenger rights.
Sec. Roxas assured airline companies that they do not want to ruin their business or cause them to lose money or in any way jeopardize what has been a successful model but at the same time told the public that such a model cannot be successful at the expense of the rights of the innocent passenger who is a contractual partner in a contract entered into whenever a ticket is sold.
The hearing, which was attended by several consumer groups, organizations of differently abled persons, senior citizens groups, travel agents, airline industry representatives, and other concerned government agencies were able to present their positions and submit their inputs or amendments to the 13-page working draft of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. This series of hearings aims to rationalize and clarify the rights and obligations of the passengers and the airlines to foster a better relationship between the two sectors.
While the budget airline business model has made air travel more affordable and accessible, it has also been the target of numerous complaints from frustrated passengers who believe that their rights have been trampled upon by budget airlines in the name of the almighty profit. The lack of updated government regulations and guidelines that could have outlined the obligations of the passenger and the airlines and avoid confusion in situations such as delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, or in cases of overbooking, only made things worse.
While this Air Passenger Bill of Rights has been long overdue, the DOTC and the DTI must take care to formulate one that can address the problems being faced by the airline industry, both now and in the near future. The airlines that have made affordable air travel a reality must be allowed to thrive but at the same time the passengers have to be protected from unfair or abusive practices. The airlines and the passengers will never be able to come to terms without the involvement of government and now that it is finally involved, we hope that they address all these concerns comprehensively and expeditiously.*