House Speaker threatens to cancel CebuPac franchise

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House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental for the oath-taking of about 6,000 new members of the PDP-Laban.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 16) — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez threatened to cancel the franchise of airline company Cebu Pacific if it did not transfer some flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 to Clark International Airport in Pampanga province, north of Manila.

Alvarez lashed out at the carrier for delaying the airport's decongestion.

"Ang iniisip lang nila, profit. Paano naman 'yung welfare ng (sic) riding public? Hindi nila iniisip 'yun, ang iniintindi lang niya, profit. Ang kapal ng mukha…at the end of the year ipa-publish pa kung ilang bilyon ang kinita. At the expense of the public's safety, comfort and convenience," Alvarez told reporters in Dumaguete in Negros Oriental province, south of Manila.

[Translation: All they think about is profit. How about the welfare of the riding public? They don't think about it, they're just concerned with profit. He's got some nerve, at the end of the year they'll publish their earnings. At the expense of the public's safety, comfort and convenience.]

Congress has the authority to issue and revoke a franchise.

The NAIA system hosted almost 109,000 international flights and almost 150,000 domestic flights in its four airports in 2017. NAIA Terminal 3 had the largest number of domestic flights at more than 42,000 arrivals and around 43,000 departures.

During the hearing of the House Committee on Transportation on Tuesday,  Alvarez pointed out that Philippines is the only country where "mixed use" airports— or airports which can take both domestic and international flights — are allowed.

"Hindi pwede ngayon 'yan. Kung ano 'yung tama, 'yun ang gawin natin. So kung domestic 'yan, domestic 'yan. Ngayon kung kulang, so be it. Ilipat mo sa Clark 'yung ibang flights," Alvarez said.

[Translation: That shouldn't be the case now. Let's do what's right. If it's a domestic airport, it's domestic. If there are less flights, so be it. Transfer the other flights to Clark.]

On Wednesday, Alvarez said the Manila International Airport Authority should decongest NAIA within 45 days.

But Cebu Pacific President Lance Gokongwei said the airline would encounter issues with tickets sold to customers a year in advance.

"Respectfully sir, given the way we sell tickets one year in advance and also the time it requires to move all our people and (do)  the ground preparations, I think these drastic steps may take over a year of planning," Gokongwei said.

Alvarez said the given time period was more than enough.

"Ang tagal na nila diyan, ilang taon na sila diyan. Forty-five days is more than enough. Alam mo, computer na lahat ngayon," he added.

[Translation: They've been there for so long. 45 days is more than enough. Everything is computerized now.]

Alvarez maintained the airline's problem is not the government's concern.

"Ang problema ng gobyerno, pangalagaan 'yung safety, comfort and convenience of the riding public. Magkaiba tayo ng obligasyon sa taumbayan. Sila, ang obligasyon nila sa sarili nila ay profit, kita," he said.

[Translation: Government's concern is to ensure the safety, comfort, and convenience of the riding public. We have different obligations to the public. Their obligations for themselves are profit.]

In 2016, NAIA was the fifth worst airport in the world, according to the travel website The same website ranked the airport as the worst airport to have a layover in 2017.

CNN Philippines' digital producer Chad de Guzman and Dumaguete-based journalist Roy Bustillo contributed to this report.