Philippine Airlines forced to cancel some of its flights permanently


Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Monday it will have to cancel some of its flights permanently after a number of pilots walked out to take higher-paid jobs abroad.

Jonathan Gesmundo said four of the national carrier’s 160 daily trips will be discontinued unless the 25 pilots return to work as the airline is demanding, saying they have not honoured their contracts.

“We will try to adjust the schedule by permanently merging some flights, using larger planes while lowering the frequency of flights,” he said.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has even stepped in, ordering PAL management to meet cabinet officials on Monday to resolve the issue before it affects tourism and travel.

The abrupt resignation of the pilots forced the cancellation of a total of 18 PAL flights on Saturday and Sunday and four domestic flights on Monday, Gesmundo said.

The cancellation of the four domestic flights will be made permanent as it will take almost a year to train replacement pilots, he added.

PAL president Jaime Bautista, in an interview with ABS-CBN television, called on those pilots still in the country to return to work or face charges.

PAL charged that the pilots did not comply with an airline rule to give 180 days prior notice before resigning. It also says the pilots still owed the airline for part of their training costs.

Bautista said that PAL could not compete with the hefty salaries being offered by airlines abroad.

The airline, which flies to Asia, the Middle East, Australia and North America, has been beset by growing labour unrest for months with ground crews and flight attendants threatening strikes.