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Airlines cry foul over NAIA access restrictions

Four international airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) may face restricted access into the airport premises allegedly due to unpaid bills amounting PhP68.46 million.


Prior to this, the Manila Times reported that members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) questioned the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which selectively reduced access of some airline personnel from seasonal to daily passes.


The AOC, through Ama and Paredes Law Firm, reportedly asked MIAA to reconsider the daily access pass policy against airline personnel and allow them free “unimpeded entry into the passenger terminals like before.”


The seasonal access passes were allegedly “suspended” following the pending execution of a formal written renewal of a lease agreement.


The Ama and Paredes Law firm, in a letter sent to MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, reminded that the affected airline personnel are different from ordinary office clerical staff who perform different tasks.


“They perform vital [tasks] to enhance the security and safety of their passengers, especially at these times when threats from terrorist [groups] cannot be taken for granted; thus, requiring them to undergo the tedious bureaucratic process of securing the daily access passes into your terminals grossly hampers
their security and safety operations,” the law firm said in the Manila Times report.


In response, MIAA said it reserves the right to take appropriate action against airlines that fail to pay dues. According to Section 8 of the General Provisions of MIAA Administrative Order No. 1 (Series of 2000), MIAA asserts power to deny or prohibit the use of airport facilities and services. It states:
“In addition, failure on the part of any person, firm, or corporation to pay any fees or charges due, and payable after a written demand by the general manager or his duly authorized representatives, shall be considered sufficient ground to deny such person, firm or corporation the further use of the airport or any of its facilities, utilities and services, and a basis for the cancellation of their contract.”


According to MIAA, the “Executive Order 903, Series of 1983, also allows the MIAA to detain the property of airlines, including aircraft, until full payment is made,” adding that the airlines were given demand letters as early as 2014, with final letters sent in 2015 and early 2016.


Among the eight airlines, four have partially or fully settled their accounts with MIAA and have been granted extended access passes, the airport authority said.


“These airlines are in active negotiation and cooperation to settle their accounts,” MIAA added.
MIAA Spokesman David de Castro released a copy of the remaining four unnamed airlines which have not settled their bills, outstanding accounts as follows: Airline A—PhP33.602 million; Airline B—PhP27.9 million; Airline C—PhP5 million; and Airline D—PhP1.8 million.


“Among others, balances remain as to interest charges and value-added taxes,” the airport authority said. The MIAA said the disputed accrued interests “can only be waived by the Commission on Audit, Congress, or the courts.”


Settling Differences


Meanwhile, MIAA has been communicating with the airlines to address their account-related concerns.


“More than the issue of settling dues, airport management wishes to settle differences with the airlines. The MIAA always considers airlines to be its major partners in promoting tourism development in the country. This, of course, entails the parties to abide by inherent corporate responsibilities, such as paying their dues,” Honrado said.


In a report from the Business Mirror, Honrado added that concerned airlines are aware of airport policies related to this and are always updated on the status of their respective accounts.


“The concerned airlines have not been denied access to airport facilities to guarantee their uninterrupted operations and to ensure continuous service to the flying public,” Honrado
said in a statement.