Following a mishap involving Cebu Pacific Flight 5J-971 overshooting the runway while landing at Davao City airport last Sunday, passengeres were reportedly critical of the way pilots and cabin crew responded to the emergency in the crucial minutes following the mishap. According to passengers, the pilots and crew were unhelpful in the face of “fright and shock” suffered by many of them. They also “seemed to have been stunned by what had just happened that they failed to attend immediately to the passengers.”
Apparently, the unacceptable emergency response from Cebu Pacific personnel did not end at the crash site…
Menard Dacono, 26, a business development manager working in Singapore, said it took a while for the passengers to be evacuated.
“When the passengers reached the terminal, there was no one there from Cebu Pacific to face them,” Dacono said.
“No one from the airline offered an explanation,” he said.
“We were even barred from taking photos of the aircraft,” Dacono said.
Cebu Pacific was established on August 26, 1988, and started operations on March 8, 1996. Republic Act No. 7151, which grants franchise to Cebu Air, Inc. was approved on August 30, 1991. Cebu Air, Inc. was subsequently acquired by JG Summit Holdings (owned by John Gokongwei). Domestic services commenced following market deregulation by the Philippine government. It initially started with 24 domestic flights daily among Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. By the end of 2001, its operations had grown to about 80 daily flights to 18 domestic destinations.
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In August 2009, Cebu Pacific became the first airline in the Philippines to use social media. The airline has fanpage on Facebook social network and has a Twitter account at @CebuPacificAir. In September 2010, a video surfaced on the popular video sharing website Youtube which showed three female flight attendants dancing along to two popular pop songs (Just Dance by Lady Gaga and California Gurls by Katy Perry) as they performed the safety demonstration. The video subsequently became a viral video.
The airline has had its share of accidents over its history. On the 12th January 2011 Cebu Pacific Flight overshot the runway on landing at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province with no reported casualties. On the 2nd February 1998 – Cebu Pacific Flight 387 crashes en route to Cagayan de Oro City killing all 104 passengers and crew.
The Philippines, for that matter, is not particularly renowned for its focus on safety. Filipinos’ prowess as a seafaring people, for example, is not as admirable as we are made to believe by the media, the Church, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The country is a consistent host to some of the worst civilian maritime disasters in modern human history. From 1987 through to 2008, for example, a single Filipino shipping company — Sulpicio Lines Inc (SLI) — was a common denominator underlying the preventable deaths of at least 10,000 people at sea. The causes of these disasters have remained fundamentally the same over the 20-year run of Philippine sea disasters that involve not just SLI. In fact, they follow a template:
Ill-maintained passenger ship oversold and overbooked with only half of its passengers recorded on ship manifest cleared for departure by corrupt Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine Coast Guard officials caught in open water as typhoon strikes…
Land transport in the Philippines is a Game of Death. Philippine streets are renowned for their drug-crazed truckers who routinely fancy themselves street racers, killer bus drivers (who, as legend would have it, are instructed to make sure the people they run over are actually killed to spare their bosses any on-going obligation to maimed victims), helmet-less motorcycle riders who weave in and out of Manila’s infernal traffic jams, public utility jeepneys dubbed “Kings of the Road” in a nod to their drivers’ royal immunity from traffic laws, and numerous open manholes which swallow up the odd pedestrian every now and then.
Indeed, the only reason Philippine aviation is relatively “safe” is because aviation attracts far more scrutiny from international regulators than Philippine inter-island shipping and land transport. But are Filipinos really serious about safety? That is the more important and harder question that needs to be faced.
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Cebu Pacific” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.