MANILA International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said he never imagined he will argue with his former private sector colleagues by taking the side of the government.
This was disclosed Wednesday by Monreal to Beyond Deadlines shortly after he signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) together with the 40-member Airline Operators Council exempting Overseas Filipino Workers from paying the P550 International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) otherwise known as terminal fee.
“I never imagined that one day I will be arguing with them (air carriers) from the standpoint of government, having been one of them in my past life in the private sector. I know exactly their concerns, their difficulties, their frustrations and their commitment to serve their passengers the best way they can,” Monreal, a former station manager of international airline Cathay Pacific Airways, said.
Monreal noted that the MoA is the product of long, arduous deliberations “with our colleagues from the airline industry.”
Under the agreement, OFWs will have a seamless airport experience “since they no long have to queue for refund as they depart from NAIA,” Monreal said.
Moreover, under the agreement the terminal fee exemption for OFWs will cover any point of sale, on-line and abroad.
Upon the revised integration project, Monreal explained, the OFW exemption “shall be honored upon face to face purchase’ of tickets from airline ticketing offices or agents overseas beginning April 30, 2017.” He noted, however, that the OFWs’ exemption on on-line purchase will start by July 31 this year.
In 2015, the previous Aquino administration integrated the terminal fee to the price of the airline ticket despite the opposition from OFW advocates and some members of the House of Representatives who even passed a resolution to make known their opposition to Aquino’s plan because under the law, OFWs are exempted from paying the airport’s terminal fee.
The goal of the integrated terminal is to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport departure area but it failed to consider its effects on departing OFWs who had to endure the long airport queue to get their refund for the fee that was charged to them by default for airline tickets bought on-line or abroad.
Meanwhile, Susan Ople of the Blas Ople Policy Center said they were overwhelmed by the latest development. She said that for 19 years, the OFWs were exempted from paying terminal fee, until the former administration has implemented a new policy by integrating terminal fee to ticket which affected the OFWs.
For his part, Philippine Airlines (PAL) President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista said PAL will cooperate with the government in implementing the new project even if “it will be an additional work for the airline,”
More than a billion pesos have been collected since the inclusion of the terminal fee in the airline ticket and half of this amount remains unclaimed by some OFWs, making it part of the general fund of the NAIA.
Monreal said his office is ready to give the refund to those who have not been able to get their money as long as the OFWs possess the e-ticket, boarding pass and passport regardless of the date they were purchased or stamped.