The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has proposed a new provision on the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (APBR) that will compel airlines to invest in technology that effectively relays announcements to passengers, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Tuesday.

The DOT, which sits as vice-chair of the board, said the CAB made the proposal to enhance the APBR during its regular board meeting on Monday that came days after Taal Volcano’s eruption disrupted flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“While it already contains strong provisions protecting the consumer, in cases of force majeure (like the recent Taal incident) including the right to compensation and amenities in case of flight delays or cancellation of flights, the APBR will be further strengthened by introducing provisions that will empower passengers to get timely notice or information from the airline, whether the flight will be canceled, delayed, or push through,” the DOT said in a statement.

Citing explanation from the CAB, the DOT said this enhancement will “obligate airlines to invest on systems, upgrades or develop technology to relay announcements to passengers, complete with appropriate advisories on the steps to take for them to avail of the entitlements” under the APBR.

Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who was present during the meeting, underscored that the safety and welfare of passengers and tourists remain a top priority to the CAB and DOT.

“With the enhanced Air Passenger Bill of Rights, we can ensure that they are provided with relevant, critical, and useful information during emergencies or as natural calamities unfold, thereby helping reduce the inconvenience or stress that passengers may experience during these unfortunate situations,” she said.

For its part, the CAB vowed to continue the issuance of advisories to airlines reiterating their obligations to their passengers.

Passengers are reminded that in cases of force majeure/natural disaster, as a rule, they are entitled to reimbursement of the full value of the fare. Even if the fare was deemed non-refundable by the airline, as long as the basis for the flight delay or cancellation is force majeure, this rule shall apply.

Last week, hundreds of flights and an estimated 80,000 passengers were affected when flight operations at the NAIA were put on hold following the Taal Volcano’s unrest.

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