MEMBERS of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) urged Congress to approve a much needed air transport reform bill, after technical glitches hit the country’s main international gateway earlier this year.
“The members of the JFC — with other industry associations such as the Safe Travel Alliance, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines and the International Air Transport Association — have long advocated for these reforms and we are optimistic that with congressional, executive, and private sector support, we will finally see their enactment in the 19th Congress,” the business groups said in a statement.
The JFC made the statement after the release of Senate Committee Report No. 39 on the air traffic management glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in January that caused the shutdown of Philippine airspace and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
The Senate Committee on Public Services recommended amendments to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) charter to strengthen the agency and address its conflicting functions as a regulator, operator and investigator. It also called for the passage of measures creating the Philippine Transportation Safety Board (PTSB) and the Philippine Airports Authority.
“The incident at the NAIA, and the disruption it caused to air transportation throughout the country, is a strong reminder of the need to pass laws to institute structural reforms in the air transport sector,” the JFC said.
Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who heads the Senate Public Services Committee, has said sabotage and cyberattacks were not the reasons behind the CAAP glitch that caused flight cancellations and left thousands of Filipinos and foreign tourists stranded.
“The Jan. 1 systems failure was indeed a confluence of factors and errors. Experts likened it to the planets aligning albeit with an unfortunate consequence. It’s rare but we know it can happen, and it will continue to happen if we don’t do anything about the problems of the air traffic system in the country,” she said in a statement.
The JFC once again pressed the Senate and House of Representatives to hold public hearings on the proposed creation of the PTSB.
“Senate and House Bills have already been filed and are pending in both chambers, with Senate Bill No. 1121 creating the PTSB sponsored for plenary approval by Senator Poe on March 7. We urge relevant committees in both chambers to conduct public hearings on the bills pending at the committee level and for the Senate to commence deliberation on Senate Bill No. 1121 at the soonest possible time,” the JFC said.
The JFC statement was approved by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc., Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave