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Transportation Law Case

Singapore Airlines Ltd. vs. Fernandez, GR 142305, Dec. 10, 2003



FACTS:

Respondent Andion Fernandez is an acclaimed soprano in the Philippines and
abroad. At the time of the incident she was availing of an educational grant
from the Federal Republic of Germany pursuing a Masters Degree in Music
major in Voice. She was invited to sing before the King and Queen of Malaysia
on Feb. 3-4, 1991. For this purpose, she took an airline ticket from Singapore
Airlines (SAL) FOR THE Frankfurt-Manila-Malaysia route. Respondent had to pass
by Manila in order to gather her wardrobe and rehearse with the pianist. SAL
issued ticket for Flight SQ 27 leaving Frankfurt on Jan. 27, 1991 for Singapore with
connections to Manila in the morning of Jan. 28, 1991. On Jan. 27, 1991 SQ 27
LEFT Frankfurt but arrived two hours late in Singapore on Jan. 28, 1991. By then,
the aircraft bound for Manila had already left. Upon deplaning in Singapore,
Fernandez approached the transit counter at Changi Airport and was told by a
lady employee that there were no more flights to Manila on that day and that
she had to stay in Singapore, if she wanted, she could fly to HK but at her own
expense. Respondent stayed with a relative in Singapore for the night. The next
day, she was brought back to the airport and approached a counter for
immediate booking but was told by a male employee: Cant you see I am
doing something. She explained her predicament but was told: Its your
problem, not ours.

The respondent never made it to Manila and was forced to take a direct flight
to Malaysia on Jan. 29, 1991 through the efforts of her mother and a travel
agency in Manila. Her mother had to travel to Malaysia with the wardrobe
which caused them to incur expenses of 50,000.

RTC Manila ordered SAL to pay respondent 50k as actual damages, 250k as
moral damages, 100k as exemplary damages, 75k as attorneys fees and
costs of suit.

CA affirmed RTC decision.

ISSUE:
Did SAL break the contract of carriage?

RULING:

Yes, when an airline issues a ticket to a passenger, confirmed for a particular
flight on a certain date, a contract of carriage arises. The passenger has every
right to expect that he be transported on that flight and on that date. If he does
Transportation Law Case

not, then the carrier opens itself to a suit for a breach of contract of carriage. A
contract of carriage requires common carriers to transport passengers safely as
human care and foresight can provide (Art. 1755, NCC). In an action for brech
of a contract of carriage, the aggrieved party does not have to prove that the
common carrier was at fault or was negligent. All that is necessary is to prove
the existence of the contract and the fact of its non-performance by the carrier.
SAL failed to inform of the delay in the turnaround aircraft in Frankfurt, neither
did it ask if the respondent and 25 other delayed passengers are amenable to a
stay in Singapore. Even SALs manual mandates that in cases of urgent
connections the head office of defendant in Singapore has to be informed of
delays so as to make needed arrangements for connecting passengers.

When respondent conveyed her apprehension in Frankfurt of the impending
delay, she was assured by petitioners personnel in Frankfurt that she will be
transported to Manila on the same date. The lady employee at the counter in
Singapore only allowed respondent to use the phone upon threat of suit, the
male employee at the counter marked Immediate Attention to Passengers with
Immediate Booking was rude to her.

Petition is denied. CA decision affirmed.