Philippine Airlines (PAL) today (19 August 2010) welcomed President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s decision to consider opening the country’s skies to foreign carriers as one of government’s options should the flag carrier and its workers fail to resolve their differences.“The President’s pronouncement is a wake-up call for both PAL management and its cabin crew union to immediately solve the CBA impasse. We hear the President’s call that we must find solutions to avoid any inconvenience to the riding public,” PAL president Jaime J. Bautista said.
“More than anyone else, PAL wants to put closure to its 2005-2010 CBA with its cabin crew. But like any negotiated CBA, it must take into consideration not only the union’s demands but the airline’s capacity to pay and meet those demands. It’s give and take,” he said.
He added that non-economic benefits such as the retirement age and other peripheral issues can be discussed in the next round of CBA talks which PAL and the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association (FASAP) “can immediately begin”.
“The important thing is to first close the 2005-2010 CBA, then we can start talking of the new one for 2010-2015,” he said.
On the open skies issue, Bautista said: “Let’s make it clear: PAL is not against open skies. We just want it to be fair, reciprocal and its implementation should be phased-in and calibrated.”
He added that open skies should be viewed in the context of available infrastructure like NAIA’s congested single runway, overburdened terminals and the country’s negative image as a tourist destination.
As he welcomed calls for more relaxed access to the Philippines, he said all airlines with existing capacity rights to Clark, Cebu, Davao and other areas should be encouraged to mount more flights to these areas to decongest Manila and promote nationwide tourism. (end)