Overbooking, 'no refunds' allowed again

Posted at 06/20/2012 3:48 PM | Updated as of 06/20/2012 6:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Local airlines are allowed once again to overbook their flights, as well as impose "no refund, no rebooking" conditions on some of its tickets.

After much protest from local airlines, the Civil Aeronautics Board deferred the implementation of two resolutions, one which prevents airlines from overbooking and another allowing refunds and rebooking of promo fares.

In Resolution no. 44 approved last June 13, the CAB said the two resolutions are set aside pending the issuance of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights. It noted that passengers will get confused since the CAB resolutions 28 and 29 on overbooking and refunds will overlap with the bill's implementing rules.

"In view of the fact that the Board and the Department of Trade and Industry are in the process of conducting public hearings on the Passenger Bill of Rights and the approval of such will affect Resolution numbers 28 and 29, the effectivity of Resolution Nos. 28 and 29 is hereby deferred until such time that the bill shall have been subjected to public hearings and approved," the resolution read.

The resolution no. 44 is effective immediately.

Resolution nos. 28 and 29 were scheduled to take effect on June 15, but the CAB refined the provisions after protests from budget carriers Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways, AirAsia and SEAIR. The airlines warned that ticket prices would go up and may even cause the "demise" of the industry if these resolutions are implementd.

Resolution no. 28 had originally suspended the provision on overbooking, but it was later refined to allow airlines to overbook only up to a maximum of 4%. Airlines typically overbook their flights by 10% in anticipation of passengers who do not show up.

Resolution no. 29 suspended the "no refund, no rebooking" conditions imposed by airlines on certain low-cost fares for domestic flights. However, the CAB clarified that if the rebooking is too close to the flight date, there will be additional fees for the passenger.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said there will be a public hearing on the Passenger Bill of Rights next week.

"The CAB Resolutions are only provisional in nature, pending the bill. As such the Board has decided to defer the implementation of the resolutions," he said.
 
Arcilla said the bill is being expedited right now. "Resolutions no. 28 and 29, if made effective now, can create confusion. Third, the bill covers  the subject matter of the CAB resolutions. Lastly, the contingencies sought to be addressed by the CAB resolutions are bow being strictly monitored and addressed by the CAB," he said.

A rising number of complaints from passengers  about the non-refundability and non-rebookability of low-cost fares, prompted the CAB's review of the airlines' policy.