Tulfo exposes airlines greed: Overbooking, maintenance issues, fatigued crew, flying each plane four round trips a day

Senator Raffy Tulfo has accused airlines of sacrificing travel safety to squeeze out more profits from their overburdened planes and flight crew and abused passengers.

“If these airlines don’t care about fulfilling their obligations to provide air transport for their passengers, I will not be surprised that they are cutting corners when it comes to safety as well,” said Tulfo during the Senate committee hearing on the public complaints against Cebu Pacific Airlines led by ultra bilyonaryo Lance Gokongwei.

“This practice of offloading and overbooking has different layers of issues. The fraud being committed against the passengers is just the tip of the problematic iceberg that is our airline industry,” he added.

Citing insights from an anonymous expert in aircraft mechanics, Tulfo underscored that flight delays, cancellations, and offloading often stem from malfunctions in critical components such as slide rafts (used for emergencies) and lavatory facilities. He stressed the importance of routine checks conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to ensure the proper functioning of these essential safety features.

Tulfo said airlines push their aircraft to the limit (Cebu Pacific admitted an aircraft is deployed for four round trips daily). “Post-pandemic, airlines have resorted to overbooking and additional flights to recover lost revenue. Continuous takeoffs and landings increase the strain on vital components like brakes, posing a safety threat to passengers,” Tulfo said.

Moreover, Tulfo expressed worry over the well-being of pilots and flight attendants, who find themselves overworked due to airlines’ relentless pursuit of profitability.

The shortage of qualified pilots in proportion to the escalating number of flights has resulted in an alarming surge of fatigue-related complaints and instances of pilots reaching their legal duty hour limits.

“The airline’s practice of maximizing their workforce by scheduling flights immediately after minimum rest periods exacerbates the issue. Some pilots are reluctant to fly, yet regulations consider an 8- to 12-hour rest period sufficient for duty resumption,” said Tulfo.

Tulfo said lawmakers were duty-bound to make sure that airline owners prioritize passenger safety along with revenue considerations.

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