PAL Rejects Pilot's resignation; Asks them to return to work
To avert more flight delays and cancellations, the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) today (01 August 2010) said it rejected the resignation of more than two dozen pilots and gave them seven days to return to work.
In a statement, the flag carrier called on its pilots to respect their existing contracts with PAL and demanded that they immediately return to work or face civil, criminal and administrative charges.
This developed as PAL was again forced to cancel eight (8) flights today owing to the pilot shortage, but most affected passengers were accommodated in merged or succeeding flights. “PAL makes sure that all passengers are attended to,” the airline said as it assured the public that it hopes to get schedules back to normal “within a week.”
The eight cancelled flights include Manila-Cagayan-Manila (PR181/182); Manila-Bacolod-Manila (PR133/134); Manila-Iloilo-Manila (PR147/148); and Manila-Cebu-Manila (PR847/848). Meanwhile, a Manila-Iloilo-Manila flight (PR145/146) that usually departs Manila at 4:20PM was rescheduled to 6:30PM.
“PAL doesn’t want to get in the way of its pilots’ dream of landing better paying jobs abroad, but they have contractual obligations with the company and a moral responsibility to thousands of passengers,” PAL stressed.
In the last few days, PAL was forced to cancel several regional and domestic flights after 13 captains and 12 first officers flying its Airbus A319s and A320s resigned from the flag carrier. They left without giving PAL ample time to train replacements, PAL said.
Recognizing the plight of its passengers, PAL sought public understanding as it adjusts flight schedules and merges some flights. It also intensified the training of more pilots to fill the gap.
“We apologize to our loyal patrons for the inconvenience. We know our passengers missed connecting flights, including important personal and business appointments. But the pilots’ resignation is something we couldn’t prevent. Many of them simply did not show up for work and just handed in their resignation letters. Some of them even owe PAL millions of pesos for the cost of their training,” the flag carrier said.
PAL added that most of the resigned pilots were reportedly ‘pirated’ by other carriers in the Asian region including the Middle East where the pay is allegedly two or three times their current salaries.
“By Philippine standards, an Airbus A320 pilot’s pay at PAL is considered ‘high’. But it’s still no match to the offer of foreign carriers. Our problem is, our competitors abroad seem to prefer PAL pilots because of they were highly-trained by PAL and renowned for their flying skills,” PAL added.
Considered “Mission Critical Skills”, pilots and aircraft mechanics are required by government regulations to give their local employers at least 180 days or six months to find suitable replacements before taking another job abroad.
PAL said it is in talks with various government agencies like the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to avert the loss of more pilots to ‘poachers” abroad.