PAL late again

Thanks, but Philippine Airlines is late again.

Many airlines have been cutting their fuel surcharges as early as two or three months ago as prices of crude oil in the world market started to tumble. I delivered a privilege speech at the City Council September 9 urging local airlines to adjust their fuel surcharges in fairness to their passengers.

PAL is heeding this call only now. Just like big oil players, which have been slow in adjusting fuel prices corresponding to the decline in crude prices by more than 50 percent from a high of $147 to $69 per barrel recently, PAL has been shortchanging its passengers.

To add salt to our financial injury, PAL is lowering its fuel surcharges not today but “early next month.”

Oh well if there is highway robbery, then this one is sky robbery!

The Civil Aviation Board should look into this matter. There ought to be a law that should automatically peg the increase and decrease of fuel surcharges to the rise and fall of crude prices in the world market.

This practice of milking passengers with high fuel surcharges when prices of oil and gas are substantially falling is patently criminal.

Admirable airline

Here’s another reason why Singapore Airlines is a class above the rest.

Starting today, it would reduce fuel surcharges on certain flights. Just when other major airlines are starting to squeeze passengers pocket dry with luggage fees, Singapore Airlines is rolling back on fuel levy as the price of crude oil plummets from its $147 per barrel highs last July.

Local carriers PAL and Cebu Pacific should follow this lead to be fair with their passengers.

4:55 a.m.

Hidden cost

Lucio Tan’s airlines have followed the successful seat sales of Cebu Pacific with Air Philippines offering P88 seats. Philippine Airlines has its discounted fares too.

CebuPac started the seats sales war with its popular P1 and now P8 fare.

These prices are, however, misleading. Excluded from this incredible prices are fuel surcharges, insurance and other fees. From P1 as advertised, the actual fare Davao to Manila actually cost passengers more than P2,000.

In Australia, the government is drafting legislation requiring “component pricing” to advertise the final cost. Hidden charges mislead consumers from such fantastic offers.

We need this kind of law too in disclosing the actual price of airfares. We are only fooling ourselves in believing that airfares are as cheap as P1 or P8 or P88.

Here is more to understand Air Fares Aren’t Fair at all.

(5:51 a.m.)

Regulatory capture

The Civil Aeronautics Board vehemently denied that it is under “regulatory capture.”

It demanded that the Senate hear its side on the the allegation by Sec. Romy Neri that it is under such state during his recent testimony over the ZTE scandal.

Well, if it is true that it is not in such straight jacket, I dare the CAB to declare its support to the “open skies” regime within 24 hours.

The proposal of Davao City for a pocket open skies has been gathering dust for the past four years at Malacanang due to the inaction and opposition of CAB. The application of Viva Macau to fly to Davao is also sleeping at the CAB for over a year now. About half a dozen other foreign airlines are likewise lining up at the closed doors of CAB waiting developments when they can fly to Davao.

The whole trouble with CAB is it equates the interest of some local carriers as the interest of the nation. It has been said many times that one key reason why Philippine tourism is a laggard is the lack of airline seats and yet CAB does not see this reality. It prefers not to level the playing field in its protectionist game at the expense of consumers, tourists and OFWs in particular.

I agree with Neri that it is a captured agency utilizing its regulatory powers to promote the selfish interest of the few.

(6:05 a.m.)

500% hike in airport fee

I just drafted a Resolution for consideration at the City Council session today regarding the increase in the airport terminal fee at the Davao (Bangoy) International Airport.

From Forty Pesos (P 40.00), the Department of Transportation & Communication has mandated the increase to Two Hundred Pesos (P 200.00) or 500 % hike starting today.

This is a clear added burden on passengers and a dis-incentive for travel, which is being promoted by the government.

Since the opening of the new airport in 2003, I have been saying all along that the blame for the failure of the government to attract more airlines to serve the airport would be passed on to consumers.

Well, here it is. Because no new airlines have come to Davao, therefore, no added revenue for the airport, they now bleed the passengers dry with this airport fee increase.

(6:28 a.m.)

Update on cement

I did not know cement producers are doctors too!

Doctoring their books to justify the high prices of cement.

Chicken is what I can say of them when Trade Secretary Peter Favila confronted them with this issue. (5:03 a.m.)

Tap water

About two months ago, I wrote in my old blog how my wife, Evelyn, had been pondering that we stop the delivery of bottled water in the house.

She said she wants us to drink tap water again. Not because bottled water costs a lot but because she said tap water is much better than those “mineral waters.”

Well, it has been two weeks since we stopped the delivery of bottled water. And things are fine so far. We did not miss bottled water a bit.

Here is one reason my wife was absolutely correct. (11:45 a.m.)

Snack ads

Two weeks ago, I authored a Resolution in the City Council supporting the promotion of banana chips as alternative to junk foods eaten by our school children.

The Department of Education is now undertaking this promotion in various schools in the region. Banana chips are highly nutritious and increasing its demand means more income for banana farmers and banana chips producers.

Junk foods are the focus too of great health concern in Thailand, where authorities believe the country has set the world record on snack ads on television.

As much as 42 snack ads appear on TV every hour, four times higher than that of the US and UK.

I do not spend much time on TV anymore so I would not know how many snack ads appear on our set per hour. Yet I know that most of those advertised are junk foods with little or no nutritional value for our kids. (7:30 a.m.)

Update:

I could not glue myself in front of the TV. In the 30 minutes or so that I tuned in to a major Philippine network showing a kiddie program at 8:30 a.m., I counted six commercial ads, 4 of which were snack food/milk ads. But the station I.D. and program ads were just too many, 11 in that half-hour. (10:40 a.m.)

Airline passenger’s bill of rights

How many times have we been a victim of or heard stories of delays at airports, bad services or arrogance of airline staff?

We ought to have a law to protect airline passengers like in New York.

Governor Eliot Spitzer signed into law – to take effect on January 1 – the airline passenger’s bill of rights, making it the first state in the US to pass the bill.

I support such a bill of rights to protect consumers for simple fairness against airline abuse and mismanagement. (4:45 a.m.)

Cement

A bag of cement costs only P163 last week. Suddenly hardware stores increased it by P5 to P168. Yesterday, it rose again by another P5 to make it at P173.

This P10 price rise in matter of days is totally unjustifiable.

Cement prices are the highest in the country compared with those of our neighbors like Vietnam, Indonesia and China. No less than the World Bank has noted the stiff price of cement in the country.

I blame this on the three foreign giants that control the local cement industry – Holcim, La Farge and Cemex.

To protect us – consumers – from this monopolistic pricing, I believe it is now high time to allow importation of cement.

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