20-Aug-2010 8:58 AM

Philippine Airlines welcomes government plans to look into open skies policy

Philippine Airlines welcomed (19-Aug-2010) Philippine 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. PAL President, Jaime J. Bautista, stated the carrier is looking to overcome its labour issues, but unions must recognise the carrier's financial situation. He also commented that an Open Skies policy 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. The Philippines already has an open skies agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but this covers only Manila Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (philstar.com, 19-Aug-2010). [more]

Travel Cooperative of the Philippines and Philippines’ National Association of Independent Travel Agencies Chairman, Robert Lim Joseph, called on the government to support PAL, instead of looking for outside help (The Daily Tribune, 20-Aug-2010). Mr Joseph stated when the country’s air services were temporaily opened up, fares were increased. He also noted that the move would damage the country’s image. Mr Joseph also appealed to PAL’s union leaders to work with management to resolve their differences.

The carrier also criticised (19-Aug-2010) the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines' (FASAP) rejection of its PHPP80 million offer, stating the offer was was made in response to its employees’ need for better pay and in recognition of their contributions to the company. However, the carrier commented that it appears that FASAP’s motivation for the CBA is not purely economic. They seek abrogation of CBA provisions on early retirement which they call “unreasonable” and “unjustified”. PAL noted a CBA is not a one sided document and is signed by the company’s authorized representatives and union board members, ratified by the general union membership, and submitted to the Department of Labor and Employment. As regards what FASAP calls a “discriminatory” and “unlawful” maternity policy, PAL stated the forced leave of absence of pregnant crew members are also in the same CBA FASAP and management approved. It added the reason for preventing pregnant crew members is to promote their personal safety and that of the child they carry. [more]

Philippine Airlines: “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. 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...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,” Jaime J. Bautista, President. Source: Philippine Airlines, 19-Aug-2010.

Travel Cooperative of the Philippines/National Association of Independent Travel Agencies: “The government should support PAL and not act like it is operating PAL. It should leave PAL to work with its airline partners and implement its contingency measures in case a strike will happen,” Robert Lim Joseph, Chairman. Source: The Daily Tribune, 20-Aug-2010.

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