Dubai: Filipino expatriates in the UAE lauded the Philippine government’s move to exempt them from paying local airport terminal fees upon purchasing their tickets beginning April 30.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Agreement with representatives of 40 airlines in Manila to formally waive the 550-peso terminal fee — which is charged in the UAE at Dh50 — for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) upon presentation of proof of their expat status.
The OFWs, from the beginning, have been exempt from these fees by law until the Department of Transportation and Communications in February 2015 started collecting fees through airline companies from all customers, including OFWs, who buy tickets online.
The OFWs flying home were then asked to obtain a refund of the fees upon reaching the Philippines but many failed to do so for lack of awareness or time.
MIAA general manager Ed Monreal, in a statement sent to Gulf News, said the exemptions will be done in two phases with those buying their tickets personally from ticketing agents expected to get exemptions beginning April 30.
“As they [OFW] buy their ticket from the ticketing office, travel agency or ticketing outlet, one has to state or declare that he is an OFW for exemption to be recognised. The selling agent may or may not ask for a proof of entitlement during transaction. The OFW, however, shall be able to present one during check-in upon his departure from Manila,” Monreal said.
Those buying their tickets online may get exempted in all air carriers only by July 31, which allows sufficient time for all involved to tweak their systems, Monreal said. In the UAE, Emirates was the first carrier to comply with the removal of the airport terminal fee on online ticket purchases from its system on March 10.
Geoffrey Salatan, Philippine support desk manager at Airlink International, lauded the swift move by the government and private sectors in resolving the issue.
“This is a fulfilment of one of President Duterte’s promises when he ran for president that he would give priority attention to OFWs and give them seamless and hassle-free experience at Philippine gateways,” Salatan told Gulf News.
“We’ve received enquiries on this as well and we advise our clients that those who bought their tickets before April 30 still have to have their terminal fees refunded.”
Joen Chozas, an assistant events manager, said the fee exemption is a big relief considering the hassle he went through last year. “We lost Dh100 last year when we decided not to refund our terminal fees anymore as there were about a hundred people in the queue and we were about to miss our flight. I’m going on holiday again this April but I’ve already bought my ticket. But this is still good news as I’m sure I’ll benefit from it in the future.”
Denis Urbano, who is going on vacation in May, said: “This is good news for all of us. Dh50 is still Dh50 and can be used as additional pocket money.”
WHO WILL BENEFIT:
- OFWs personally buying tickets from ticketing offices will be exempted from airport fees by April 30.
- OFWs buying tickets online will be exempt starting July 31 in all carriers.
Documents needed for exemption: (any of the following)
1) Overseas Employment Certificate
2) Valid work visa/ work permit
3) Valid employment contract
4) Current employment certificate