Calling it a “near-fatal disaster”, Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles on Monday called for an investigation on Cebu Pacific runway crash at the Davao airport Sunday night.
Nograles, in a statement, said he was able to speak to some of the passengers who told him that “upon touchdown, he suspects that the plane landed not on the runway but on the ground so the pilot stepped hard in the brakes which is an indication that the pilot miscalculated his landing.”
He said the airline apparently committed lapses on the way it handled the emergency situation.
Nograles said that when the “plane skidded to a stop after overshooting the runway, the emergency exit doors were not opened immediately and flights crews, including the pilot, also went into panic instead of helping the passengers to calm down.”
A passenger, he said, told him that it took about 10 minutes before the pilot could say anything to the passengers after the plane crashed.
“That was also the only time when the emergency exit doors were opened. The passengers disembarked using the slide so they had to leave all their personal belongings behind. It was raining hard and they were very slow in transporting the passengers from the plane crash site to the airport,” he said.
Nograles also criticized the reported “shabby treatment of the terrified passengers as they were not even given instructions on how and where to collect their luggage.”
The Cebu Pacific management, meanwhile, has been silent about the reason why flight 5J 971 figured in a crash. Not one from the airline would want to comment on runway mishap.
Its press release only said that “flight 5J 971 from Manila to Davao landed safely but veered off to the right of the Davao runway during a heavy downpour at the time. All 165 passengers were unhurt and safely shuttled to the terminal, where their needs were taken care of.”
The same press release said that the airline has “cancelled 20 roundtrip flights to and from Davao on June 3, 2013, because of runway obstruction leading to the closure of the Davao International Airport.”
Because of stranded passengers, the airline announced that it has arranged for 10 extra roundtrip flights between Manila and General Santos, four extra flights between Cebu and General Santos, one extra flight between Iloilo and General Santos and one extra flight between Zamboanga and General Santos to re-accommodate affected passengers.
“The airline is contacting guests on their re-accommodation, and is providing transfers between General Santos and Davao, as well as meals and hotel accommodations, as necessary. Rest assured that Cebu Pacific is doing its best to assist all passengers, and facilitate the removal of the runway obstruction,” the company said.
The incident, according to Nograles, showed that Cebu Pacific personnel lacked training in handling emergency situation.
“In other words, Cebu pacific is not equipped to respond to emergency situations such as a plane crash. The in-flight crew should know how to handle actual emergency situations and not just good at making a demo during pre-flight procedures,” he said.
Cebu Pacific is known for its affordable domestic and international travel packages.
The Davao representative said the probe must also look into “various promotional campaigns of Cebu Pacific which often results to overbooking and most importantly,overworked pilots and in-flight crews.”
“Cebu Pacific is endangering the safety of their passengers because they practically turned their airline company into a sari-sari store. With so many flights to cover, their pilots and in-flight crews could hardly take a rest.That is definitely an invitation to disaster, ” he said. | NewsDesk