No aviation charges must be collected from traveling overseas Filipino workers, says Department of Labour and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Bello reminds airlines even those who are operating in UAE and other Gulf states to never collect terminal fees and other travel taxes from OFWs. This reminder comes after several reports that some airlines are still collecting these fees from Filipino expats.
Bello also reminded the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to refund the taxes and fees collected from OFWs in the past three years.
Since 2015, there are about 500 million pesos terminal taxes that are yet to be collected by OFWs and were not yet turned over to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
It can be recalled that Bello ordered foreign aviation carriers such as Emirates Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and Saudia Airlines to stop including travel taxes and airport fees in the cost of tickets issued to OFWs.
“It has come to my attention that the travel tax and terminal fees are being included in the cost of the airline tickets issued to our OFWs,” says Bello.
More or less, the exemption can lower the cost of tickets to about 5 percent of the average amount of ticket. In 2017, travel taxes cost P1,620/economy class passenger and P750 for the airport fees.
“I’m wondering why until now they continue to collect. In fact, a year ago already we’ve sent a letter that they should not collect,” says Bello. “That is illegal exaction. They may be criminally liable, so we are writing them again to remind of the exemption of our OFWs,” Bello added.
Emirates spokesperson said earlier that they will stop collecting aviation fees from OFWs.
“Emirates complies with all relevant legislation within the Philippines. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who book flights with Emirates, and hold a valid OEC are entitled to a Philippine travel tax and terminal fees exemption, which is processed at the time of ticketing or can be claimed at the airport prior to departure,” Emirates spokesperson said.