PAL retrenching 2,300 workers

Published February 2, 2021, 3:59 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

As part of its survival strategy, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will slash 30 percent of its workforce, laying off a total of 2,300 employees, including both voluntary separations and involuntary retrenchment, effective next month, March 16.

PAL has announced the retrenchment program to employees as early as October 2020.

While demand for air travel is returning slowly, the flag carrier is “still far from pre-pandemic levels”, PAL reasoned.

Todate, PAL operates less than 30 per cent of its normal pre-pandemic number of weekly flights, held down by lowered travel demand and travel restrictions nationwide and around the world.

Since March 2020, PAL has suspended capital expenditures, reduced management salaries, deferred lease payments and slashed non-essential expenses.

The airline is implementing next month’s retrenchment after a comprehensive system-wide review process.

It is part of the company’s overall recovery initiatives amid the ongoing pandemic devastating the global airline industry.

Prior to the retrenchment, PAL chose to implement temporary furloughs and flexible working arrangements to hold off job cuts as long as possible and ensure that employees continued to receive salaries and benefits, particularly medical benefits, during the height of the pandemic.

“This was an extremely difficult and painful decision,” PAL President Gilbert F. Sta. Maria said of the retrenchment.

The affected employees will continue to receive their salaries and medical benefits until the effective date of separation.

Support includes outplacement assistance and employability initiatives to help ease the transition.

Meanwhile, PAL has assured its customers and partners that current operations will continue without disruptions.

PAL will continue to gradually increase international and domestic flights as demand recovers.

In addition to regular scheduled services, the flag carrier continues to mount special repatriation flights to help bring home stranded Filipinos from the Middle East, Europe, North America and all over Asia.

PAL likewise operates all-cargo services to meet the essential cargo transport needs of the public and support economic supply chains.

PAL will also be supporting the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, once available.