ZEST Air has responded publicly to the suspension order issued on Friday by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) grounding the budget carrier's operations, saying it was "surprised".
In a press statement released on the same day as the grounding, Zest Air said it was “surprised that (the suspension order) was issued without giving us an opportunity to properly respond to their issues raised”.
The airline said its management had been “in full cooperation with CAAP in ensuring that the maintenance programmes and policies of Zest Air are in place” and asserted that “all 11 (Zest) aircraft are safe and airworthy”.
CAAP had last Friday banned the LCC from flying over incidents that had compromised several flights as well as other violations of air safety rules, according to news agency AFP.
In a letter to operator Zest Airways, CAAP pointed out that five Zest Air flights had been grounded in the period spanning July 22 and August 13 due to problems such as fuel overflow, and another plane had been found refuelling on Wednesday with passengers on board.
The airline’s pilots were also found to have exceeded the flying time limit of 100 hours per month, and no “accountable manager” had been appointed after the resignation of its previous executive in July, reported AFP.
Responding to CAAP’s charges, Zest Air said: “The reason why management in the past weeks have decided to voluntarily stop our aircraft from flying is to proactively ensure that any issues discovered, are rectified or properly addressed before we use the aircraft for commercial operations.”
It added that its reports “reflected this and is confirmed by CAAP inspectors that no procedural lapses were committed and that the aircraft concerned is not subject to any technical problems”.
“Our accountable manager is ambassador Alfredo M Yao, who is the president and CEO of Zest Air.
“Furthermore, none of our pilots or crew are exceeding their duty time limitations,” insisted the airline.