Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cusi cites need for effort of all stakeholders and CAAP to regain Category 1 status

FORMER airport general manager Alfonso Cusi is now the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), replacing Ruben Ciron.

“I have taken my oath of office in MalacaƱang on Monday, and I have sent my papers to General Ciron to let him know that I am coming over,” said Cusi. But he quickly added, “I hold him in high esteem and I am not in a hurry to grab his post.”

Cusi said the challenge he faces is to get the country back to Category 1 status and he alone would not be able to do it but through the efforts of all the stakeholders “for the good of the country…one of my first moves is to call a summit of the airline operators, industry players and others to discuss my role at the CAAP. We must agree what rules to be followed and what the aviation authority has to do, which must be known to the people.”

One of the things he has done to achieve his aims is that he has prepared a 100-day plan he would present to the rank and file. “Ayaw kong magmarunong [I don’t want to be a know-it-all],” he said.

Ciron has canceled his scheduled trip to Brussels, Belgium, on March 15 to have a meeting with Daniel Calleja, the European Union (EU) director general for Transportation and Energy, who he was supposed to brief on the progress of CAAP compliance with the “significant safety concern” aired by the International Civil Aviation Organization audit team in October 2009.

His presence in the European Union would signify the Philippines serious concern to address the issue raised by the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program. “Any disruption of this meeting would send a wrong signal to the EU that the Philippines is not focused in returning the country’s aviation to Category 1 status and that we have taken for granted the seriousness of our dire situation.”

If a negative ruling is given by the EU, airline industries, particularly Philippine international carriers, may be refused further landing rights in foreign destinations, and the tourism industry and other downstream businesses related to air travel and tourism would suffer a devastating fallout.”

He did not say, however, what the government plans to do now that he has cancelled his meeting with Calleja.

Meanwhile, Melvin Matibag had taken over the helm of the MIAA from Cusi. A lawyer, he is the former head executive assistant of Cusi.

Matibag said he would follow the blueprints that had been prepared by his predecessor. “I will continue the projects that are already in the pipeline and that includes getting the ISO for Terminals 1 and 2.” He added that he would also complete the rehabilitation of Terminal 1 and other unfinished facilities to make it an alternative building for Terminal 3, since the latter’s full operation could no longer be guaranteed.

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