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Airlines come under fire for price gouging as well

Unreasonable price hikes are showing up in seafarers’ repatriation

Strict border restrictions have caused some airlines to pause flights. Those who continue to operate unfortunately took the chance to hike prices. Is this another case of ethics during a crisis?

Unethical profiteering on the rise?
Much has been said about carriers imposing loadings on top of their unreasonably hiked rates. The same has shown up in airlines flying seafarers home – albeit with the airline publicly named. The Philippines imposed a border restriction till end of June 2021. That left carriers like United Arab Emirates, Philippines Airlines and Cebu Pacific to cancel their flights. Regrettably, amongst the middle eastern carriers that continue to fly to Manila, one imposed a whopping $1,500 surcharge for passengers returning home!

Expressing outrage at the hike, InterManager’s Secretary-General, Cpt Kuba Szymanski asserted, “This decision, it is a disgrace for Etihad Airlines to charge extra $1,500 to fly Filipino seafarers to the Philippines!” InterManager is the association for third-party ship managers.

While Etihad Airlines did not provide a response to the allegations, airlines’ overcharging for flights or denying refunds are prevalent today. Stemming from COVID-19 induced travel restrictions which devastated tourism and aviation, complaints about airlines are common on the same pretext on limited capacities.

A crisis is always another’s business opportunity. In this instance, one could argue if Etihad is one of the carriers willing to risk flying to high-risk areas, the price hike can be explained away if the amount is reasonable. However, the same cannot be said for ship managers who foot the flight bills for returning seafarers by bulk headcounts.

The Philippines remain as a high-risk country and is under Code Red Sublevel 2 on its code alert system. This reflects the degree of local virus transmission which eclipsed the capacity that the government can handle. Though current travel restrictions are due to expire on 30 June 2021, its materialising is still a question given the degree of virus transmission.

 

Crewing Online Media Team
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