Philippine president Benigno Aquino III has stepped into the dispute between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and 25 pilots whose resignations to move to higher overseas paying jobs, caused domestic and some regional flights to be delayed or cancelled.
Over the weekend, the pilot shortage on Airbus A319s and A320s either disrupted or cancelled 23 PAL flights, including two to Hongkong and Singapore.
Airline officials apologised in a statement to affected customers, adding: “The indiscriminate resignation of PAL’s A320 pilots for flying jobs abroad whose salaries PAL is unable to match, is in violation of their contracts with PAL as well pertinent government regulations that require resigning pilots to give PAL six months prior notice to be able to train their replacements.
The company intends to file appropriate charges against pilots who chose not to report for work immediately after submitting resignation letters. Most of the pilots are said to still owe PAL the cost of their aviation school training, which run into millions of pesos per pilot.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted an official of the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines saying that money was not the only reason for the resignation. He said that PAL had forced several of its pilots to take jobs at a sister company, budget carrier Air Philippines, forcing them “to take lower salaries and the security of their tenure was removed”.
President Aquino will be meeting with executives of the departments of transportation, labour and justice to solve a problem, which he said was undermining “our tourism efforts and other aspects of our economy that would need their (PAL’s) efforts”.
PAL is currently adjusting its schedules by merging some flights, upgrading aircraft to a bigger type in order and fielding of management pilots to lessen the inconvenience to affected passengers.
For updates on flight status, call tel 63 2 855-8888 or visit www.philippineair.com
Margie T Logarta