NINOY Aquino International Airport (NAIA) check-in counters. — BW FILE PHOTO

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is barred from spending P1.2 billion worth of terminal fees remitted by airlines for unused tickets to upgrade equipment, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a legal o pinion dated July 25, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said the fees are trust funds that could only be used to refund claims from passengers.

“The MIAA acts as the trustee on behalf of its passengers, and is not free to unilaterally utilize such funds,” he said in a letter to MIIA General Manager Cesar M. Chiong.

MIAA entered into a deal with domestic and international airline companies for the collection of terminal fees imposed by the government on departing passengers and which are included in ticket prices.

Passengers who did not push through with their flights can refund the terminal fees.

Mr. Remulla said his legal opinion was issued as “information and guidance only.”

“Sound administrative practice, more than official courtesy, demands that the Department of Budget and Management and Commission on Audit be accorded the first opportunity to consider and resolve the issue presented,” he added. — John Victor D. Ordonez