Palau Minister Wants Flight Cancellations Explained

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‘Irate customers’ complained to minister’s office

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Jan. 30, 2014) – Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce Min. Charles Obichang has asked United Airlines to provide reasons for its recent cancellation of flights in Palau.

The minister’s request was through a letter to Art Day, Regional Director for Airport Operations Asia Pacific Guam, United Airlines, dated January 27.

Between December 31, 2013 and January 25 this year, four UA flights have been cancelled. Two of these flights were Guam-Koror flights while the other two were Manila-Koror flights.

There was reportedly no prior notice given to passengers about the cancellation of flights nor any communication regarding the reasons for cancellation.

In Island Times’ inquiry to UA earlier about the cancellation of flights on December 30 and December 31, the airlines issued brief statement that the December 30 flight from Guam to Koror and December 31 flight from Koror to Guam were cancelled "due to crew issues."

As to the cancellation of flight on December 31 from Manila to Koror to Guam, the airlines said it was due to "maintenance issues."

Obichang said his office received numerous complaints from irate customers who were suddenly stranded without any notice of flight cancellation and had to book an additional hotel night, miss a business meeting or fail to get to a scheduled appointment in Manila as a medical referral patient.

The minister said that the services provided by UA are critical to the social and economic well being of Palau. He added that UA is Palau’s biggest partner in the aviation industry and accounts for a huge percentage of local and foreign travelers.

Obichang said the flight cancellations are at times inevitable. However, four cancellations in a month are unacceptable.

"I request that United Airlines provide our Ministry reason for its recent cancellation of four flights, as well as assurances that this matter is being addressed so that it does not occur again in the future," Obichang said.

Obichang also asked UA to engage in appropriate correspondence to MPIIC office when scheduled flights are cancelled.

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