CAAP to waive airport fees for domestic airlines

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REUTERS

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday said it intends to waive airport fees for domestic air carriers under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), which expires on Dec. 19.

“The intention is to waive landing and take-off fees, as well as the parking fees to be paid by the domestic carriers within the coverage or effectivity of the Bayanihan II. This is actually among the assistance initially requested by the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP),” Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Chief of Staff Danjun G. Lucas told BusinessWorld in a phone message.

“If we look at the law, it is only effective until Dec. 19, 2020. This is the timeline we are working on,” he added.

Bayanihan II or Republic Act. No. 11494 was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sept. 11 and will remain in force until the next adjournment of the 18th Congress on Dec. 19.

ACAP earlier said airlines pay around P500 million per month for such fees.

“A waiver (of fees) as distinguished from deferral will help,” ACAP Executive Director and Vice-Chairman Roberto C.O. Lim told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.

At the same time, Mr. Lucas said the air sector already submitted its draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Bayanihan II to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) for consolidation.

“Under the law there should be an IRR. DoTr is ready with the draft implementing guidelines as required by the law. To be sure, weeks back, Sec. (Arthur P.) Tugade already directed all the sectors, including the air sector, to finalize the draft IRR concerning assistance to critically impacted industries,” he said.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said the overall IRR for the transport sector is now being finalized.

“We are also waiting for release of the funds from DBM (Department of Budget and Management), but there are already identified allocations and activities. IRRs are being finalized,” she said, adding that she could not yet disclose the details.

Under Bayanihan II, P9.5 billion has been set aside for the recovery programs of the Transportation department. Of that amount, P2.6 billion is dedicated to assist the critically hit businesses in the transportation industry.

About P7 billion goes to land-based transport workers and to build bicycle lanes, ACAP’s Mr. Lim said.

ACAP is composed of Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL), Cebu Air, Inc. (Cebu Pacific), Philippines AirAsia, Inc., Air Philippines Corp. (PAL Express), and Cebgo, Inc.

Mr. Lim said the air, land, and sea sectors are expected to get around P700 million. Each airline is expected to receive around P140 million in loan assistance under the economic stimulus package, he added.

The Bayanihan II law also states that critically impacted businesses “may avail of the grant for a period of not more than six months.” Grants include reductions in rates, fees and charges imposed by any regulatory agency and local government unit.

Mr. Lim said government financial institutions are also supposed to get P30 billion in equity infusion that would allow them to extend loans to or invest in the transportation industry.

“We are awaiting details of the entire financing package, so we can determine participation of DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) and LANDBANK (Land Bank of the Philippines), if any,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Monday.

He added the details should come from “those applying.”

Mr. Dominguez last week said the government is ready to assist the airline sector, but “private sector banks have to cough up the majority of the assistance.”

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