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Zero tolerance: Advocacy group proposes jail time and franchise cancellation for airlines’ abusive actions

The Passenger Forum is calling on legislators to enact a comprehensive law to strengthen air passenger rights in the Philippines.

The proposed legislation includes penalties, such as imprisonment for airline officials and the revocation of an airline’s franchise in cases of abusive and unjust practices.

Despite the existence of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, which received approval from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Transportation and Communications in 2012, airlines continue to disregard passenger rights, leading to a growing number of complaints.

Passengers have expressed frustrations ranging from being involuntarily bumped from their prebooked flights to incurring substantial financial burdens due to extended stays and the need to purchase new tickets to reach their destinations.

TPF Convenor Primo Morillo underscored the urgent need for a more robust legislative framework to safeguard air passenger rights. Morillo said.

“While the current bill marked a significant step forward, recent incidents of flight cancellations and other air transport issues demand more effective measures to protect the rights and interests of passengers,” he said.

One critical concern highlighted by Morillo is the lack of proactive communication from airlines regarding passengers’ entitlements

“Airlines often only provide compensation when passengers explicitly demand it, leaving many unaware of their rights. By imposing penalties for non-compliance, we can mitigate this problem and create a stronger incentive for airlines to improve their systems and customer service,” Morillo explained.

Under the proposed legislation, airlines engaging in excessive flight cancellations could face severe consequences, including the potential revocation of their congressional franchise.

“Our proposal suggests imposing substantial fines when flight cancellations reach a total cost of P50 million or affect 10,000 passengers, whichever threshold is met first. If the total cost surpasses P500 million or the number of affected passengers reaches 100,000, franchise cancellation proceedings should be initiated,” Morillo said.

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