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Naia heat spurs lawsuit from pol who fainted

A former senatorial candidate filed a P1.5-million damage suit against the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) and an airline company, more than two weeks after he fainted due to the heat and hurt his head and elbow at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

In a civil case filed in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Wednesday, lawyer Samson Alcantara accused Miaa and Zest Airways Inc. of “willful breach of contractual and statutory obligations to provide for the protection, safety and convenience of plaintiff, an airline passenger and a senior citizen.”

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Alcantara collapsed and went unconscious while in a queue for his flight to Malaysia at Naia Terminal 4 on May 23. He was then traveling with fellow professors from the University of Sto. Tomas who were booked for a weekend vacation in Kota Kinabalu.

In his six-page complaint, the lawyer described the check-in area as “hot, congested (and) not provided with seats, and did not have any senior citizens’ express or priority lanes.”

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“[I] therefore had no choice but to remain standing, for almost two hours, while waiting for the check-in counters of said defendant to open. [W]hile standing and waiting for the check-in counter to open, I lost consciousness, fell on the floor and sustained injuries in the head and left elbow,” he recalled.

Alcantara was brought to the Miaa clinic and then to San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City. He was later confined at Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City and discharged on May 26.

The lawyer sued for actual damages of not less than P200,000, saying he was subjected to “extreme physical pain, serious anxiety and humiliation;” moral damages of P400,000; exemplary damages of P500,000; and P400,000 to cover attorney’s fees.

He also invoked protection under the Air Passenger Bill of Rights adopted by the trade and transportation departments in 2012.

The lawyer was among at least three passengers reported in the media to have fainted due to poor ventilation at Naia terminals, where the hot and humid conditions had been aggravated by long lines, most recently at the immigration counters whose computers recently suffered glitches.

The Miaa and the transportation department earlier apologized to passengers and tried to remedy the situation with portable air coolers.

In a text message, AirAsia Zest chief executive officer Joy Caneba said the airline had yet to receive a copy of the complaint. She said the company was planning to contact Alcantara since AirAsia Zest “assisted him during the incident.”

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In a phone interview, Alcantara, who ran for the Senate in 2013, said he went to court to encourage other travelers who suffered like him to file similar cases and “teach airport and airline authorities a lesson about prioritizing the welfare of passengers, particularly the elderly.”

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TAGS: Manila International Airport Authority, Miaa, NAIA, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Samson Alcantara
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