Hocog to submit petition to DOT this week


The petition against Cape Air/United that is being spearheaded by Rose Hocog was to be forwarded to the consumer counsel of the Office of the Attorney General but she was told that the office has no jurisdiction over airlines.

“[The assistant attorney general] said we would have to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation,” Hocog said.

In a message delivered on social media to “frustrated Cape Air customers,” Hocog said she would file the complaint with the department by the end of this week.

The OAG’s consumer counsel is assistant attorney general Ghassan Harb. Under consumer protection law in the CNMI, the office is allowed to settle any disputes between merchants and consumers, as well as prosecute those who have conducted business practices that are harmful or unfair to its consumers.

Hocog said that she was told that a press release from the OAG regarding the filing of complaints would be issued soon.

The U.S. DOT allows letters or complaint forms to be submitted online on its Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement website. Complaints are entered into DOT’s aviation system and charged to the company in question through the Air Travel Consumer Report, made available to the airline industry and public every month.

According to the DOT website, complaints will be reviewed to determine the extent to which carriers are in compliance with federal aviation consumer protection regulations.

Hocog’s petition began in June and has since collected over 200 signatures online.

In an earlier interview, Hocog said that Cape Air’s constant mechanical issues are provoking concerns about the safety of passengers and crew.

“I am calling for [government agencies] to force Cape Air to get a new and better airplane and improve their services and to do so without raising their price,” she said.

The online petition cites how CNMI residents pay up to $400 for roundtrip tickets to Guam but do not receive the kind of service they deserve for the amount of money paid.

Based on statements posted online, disruption of and inconvenience in family, business, and professional life are some of the various reasons cited for supporting Hocog’s petition.

One customer, Pepe Liwanag of Saipan, cited United’s “inconsiderate” and “additional fees.”

John Kyle Pangelinan, who lives in Guam, said the prices for flights between Guam and Saipan “make no sense” and are “ridiculous” given the unreliability in aircraft service.

“I was one of the people who endured the 4-5 delays in a single night because their aircraft had service issues. I choose not to fly home [to Saipan] frequently because I don’t feel safe riding their planes. Purchase new aircrafts, United, and your new airfare rates would be understandable,” he said.

Another customer claimed that because the airline has a “monopoly” on flights between Guam and Saipan, they feel they have no reason to be concerned about the “unreasonable fares” and service they provide.

This week, Cape Air cancelled flights up to the Aug. 6. The previous run of cancelled flights occurred as recently as last week and the previous weekend, with flights cancelled up to July 31.

United’s press release on Monday cited no reason for the flight cancellations. Last week’s flights were attributed to “mechanical issues.” Efforts to obtain more details about these “mechanical “issues” were unsuccessful.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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