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Transportation Case Digest: British Airways v. CA (1993)

G.R. No. 92288   February 9, 1993
Lessons Applicable: Actionable Document (Transportation)

  • February 15, 1981: First International Trading and General Services Co. (First Int'l), a duly licensed domestic recruitment and placement agency, received a telex message from its principal ROLACO Engineering and Contracting Services (ROLACO) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to recruit Filipino contract workers in its behalf
  • Early March 1981: ROLACO paid British Airways, Inc. (BA) Jeddah branch the airfare tickets for 93 contract workers with specific instruction to transport the workers to Jeddah on or before March 30, 1981
    • As soon as BA received a prepaid ticket advice from its Jeddah branch informed First Int'l.  
      • Thereafter, First Int'l instructed ADB Travel and Tours. Inc. (its travel agent) to book the 93 workers with BA but it failed
        • So First Int'l had to borrow P304,416.00 for the purchase of airline tickets from the other airlines for the 93 workers who must leave immediately since the visas are valid only for 45 days and the Bureau of Employment Services mandates that contract workers must be sent to the job site within a period of 30 days
  • First week of June, 1981: First Int'l was again informed by BA that it had received a prepaid ticket advice from its Jeddah branch for the transportation of 27 contract workers. 
    • Immediately, First Int'l instructed its ADB to book the 27 contract workers with the BA but only 16 seats were confirmed and booked on its June 9, 1981 flight. 
  • June 9, 1981: only 9 workers were able to board said flight while the remaining 7 workers were rebooked to:
  • June 30, 1981 - again cancelled by British without any prior notice to either First Int'l or the workers
  • July 4,1981 - (6 + 7 workers) 13 workers were again cancelled and rebooked to July 7, 1981.
  • July 6, 1981:  First Int'l paid the travel tax of the workers as required by BA but when the receipt of the tax payments was submitted, only 12 seats were confirmed for July 7, 1981 flight
  • July 7, 1981: Flight was again cancelled without any prior notice 
  • 12 workers were finally able to leave for Jeddah after First Int'l had bought tickets from the other airlines
  • As a result of these incidents, First Int'l sent a letter to BA demanding compensation for the damages it had incurred by the repeated failure to transport its contract workers despite confirmed bookings and payment of the corresponding travel taxes.
  • July 23, 1981: the counsel of First Int'l sent another letter to BA demanding P350,000.00 damages and unrealized profit or income - denied
  • August 8, 1981: First Int'l received a telex message from ROLACO cancelling the hiring of the remaining recruited workers due to the delay in transporting the workers to Jeddah. 
  • January 27, 1982: First Int'l filed a complaint for damages against First Int'l 
  • CA Affirmed RTC: BA to pay First Int'l damages, attorneys fees and costs 
ISSUE: W/N BA is not liable because there was no contract of carriage as no ticket was ever issued

HELD: Affirmed. MODIFICATION that the award of actual damages be deleted (reimbursed by ROLACO)
  • In dealing with the contract of common carriage of passengers for purpose of accuracy, there are two (2) aspects of the same, namely: 
    • (a) the contract "to carry (at some future time)," which contract is consensual and is necessarily perfected by mere consent - applicable in this case
    • (b) the contract "of carriage" or "of common carriage" itself which should be considered as a real contract for not until the carrier is actually used can the carrier be said to have already assumed the obligation of a carrier
    • Even if a prepaid ticket advice (PTA) is merely an advice from the sponsors that an airline is authorized to issue a ticket and thus no ticket was yet issued, the fact remains that the passage had already been paid for by the principal of the appellee, and the appellant had accepted such payment
    • Besides, appellant knew very well that time was of the essence as the prepaid ticket advice had specified the period of compliance therewith, and with emphasis that it could only be used if the passengers fly on BA
    • involvement of the BA in the contract "to carry" was well demonstrated when the it immediately advised First Int'l
    • Acts of BA indeed constitute malice and evident bad faith which had caused damage and besmirched the reputation and business image fo First Int'l