THE CIVIL Aeronautics Board (CAB) is crafting a penalty scheme to punish airlines for “chronic delays.”

CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla told reporters last week that the regulator plans to release in two months a memorandum circular that will impose sanctions on carriers’ “chronic” flight delays.

“We are coming up with a regulation… We’re going to penalize chronic delays — not delay per se, not cancellation per se… But what we are looking at is drawing the line between normal delays — these are unavoidable at a certain level — and chronic delays,” Mr. Arcilla said, describing occasional delays as a “reality” in the aviation industry.

CAB says there is “chronic delay” when more than half of a carrier’s flights in a month are delayed.

“To our mind, it already goes into the soundness of the planning of the airline. If you are more than 50% delayed for that route alone, to our mind, there is a problem in the way that you plan your services. So we have to deal with that,” he said.

Sanctions may come in the form of fines.

Last month, the CAB started requiring local airlines to submit a monthly report of their on-time performance to help the regulator evaluate operational efficiency at the country’s gateways.

Mr. Arcilla said existing data show that airlines’ performance in this regard has been improving, but the CAB needs to keep monitoring to have more substantial data.

“We need more time to look at it on a longer time frame… But offhand, we see an improvement,” he said.

The Department of Transportation had reported that both Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific have improved on-time performance last month. PAL had a running average on-time performance of 82% in July from 80% in June, while Cebu Pacific was at 77% from 60% in the same comparative months.

The on-time performance is measured by the number of departures and arrivals that take off and land within 15 minutes from schedule, as well as flight cancellations. — Denise A. Valdez