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Labour relations a key to PAL's turnaround, Bautista

Jaime Bautista, President and

COO of Philippine Airlines (PAL), the CAPA Airline Turnaround of the Year, pointed

to the carrier's ability to make peace with labour as a key to its remarkable

renaissance.

When the carrier went into receivership in 1998, it was a two-week pilots and crew strike that almost put the Philippine flag carrier out of business. That strike, however, paved the way for its future turnaround, as the illegal nature of the action meant that the union was barred from representing the pilots in future (and when the pilots returned, they signed an agreement vowing not to organise again).

Now, Mr Bautista explains, pilots are represented in the airline's senior management, with all company players focusing their attention on the competition PAL faces from internal and external sources. "We're getting along very well these days," the CEO remarked.

Ensuring that the management-labour harmony is not limited to the flight deck staff, the privately owned airline, which is in the process of expanding services within the region and to the US, ensured that all employees received shares in the company before it began the process of pursuing a multi-level ownership diversification programme.

The move was a well-earned reward for a workforce that was loyal throughout the darkest days of receivership. "Our employees really wanted to save the airline," Mr Bautista gratefully says.

Aviation Outlook Summit 2008 is the fourth meeting of the Centre's annual review of the Asia Pacific and Middle East airline industry and its future prospects. This year's gathering is focused on the need for Asian industry participants to play a leadership role in the events that continue to shape the global aviation sector, especially as the region begins to generate the largest share of world traffic.

Aviation leaders from all segments of the industry have assembled in Singapore to discuss and debate how the regional sector can proactively assert itself in such vital fields as the environment, liberalisation and the necessary evolution of the aviation business model, for both full-service and low cost airlines.

The event's organiser, the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, is the region's leading independent air transport research and analysis group. With offices in New Delhi, Singapore, Geneva, Vancouver and the UK, the Centre is the consensus authority on matters related to all elements of Asia Pacific airlines and airports.

For information on Centre products and services, visit the web site at centreforaviation.com.