As the title of this article says, pilots are flying. And, what I am saying is that Pilots for Philippine Airlines (PAL) are flying.
Well, Bob, of course the PAL pilots are flying… that is what pilots are supposed to do, fly planes!
Well, yes, pilots are literally supposed to fly airplanes, but I never said that PAL’s pilots are flying planes. I said they are flying. What I meant is that PAL’s pilots are flying out the front door! You see, a lot of pilots for PAL are quitting their jobs, and leaving PAL’s flights stranded on the ground.
Just in the past few days, pilots for Philippine Airlines, particularly pilots of Airbus A320 planes have been leaving PAL in droves. Why are they leaving?
Well, according to a PAL spokesman whom I saw interviewed on the TV news here, foreigner airlines are coming and hiring Filipino Pilots, snatching them right from PAL. According to the report I saw, the airlines that are grabbing PAL pilots are mainly airlines from the Middle East, although others are too.
The situation got so serious over the weekend that on Saturday, PAL completely canceled four flights – 3 Domestic flights, and one Regional International Flight. The PAL spokesman assured passengers during his TV interview that there was no need for concern, because the Sunday flights would use larger planes in order to accommodate the passengers who could not fly on Saturday. Problem is that the situation got worse on Sunday when eight flights! Not only were four flights canceled on Saturday, but another 23 PAL Saturday flights were affected in other ways due to the lack of pilots.
PAL issued a statement on Saturday stating that the cause of the loss of Pilots was due to the foreign airlines coming in and offering larger salaries to pilots, salaries which PAL simply could not match. In fact, most of the pilots who have left PAL employment in the past week have been given jobs with more than double the salary that they had been paid by PAL.
PAL issued a statement about the issue, which was carried in the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
On Saturday, at least 23 flights were disrupted after a number of the company’s pilots abandoned their aircraft to find better paying jobs overseas. The company management had said it was looking into holding these pilots accountable for their action.
Hold them accountable for their actions? How? I mean, the Philippines is a free country, nobody is forced to stay at a job, at least not as far as I know. If I were a pilot and some airline from Qatar or Saudi offered me twice my salary to go fly for them, I’d be out the door too. How can they be “held accountable” by PAL?
PAL does say that there is a law that the Pilots must give six months notice if they are going to quit. However, so far, I have seen no confirmation of such a law, and I am aware of no such law. I think it is a matter of common courtesy that an employee give a minimum of two weeks notice if they intend to quit their job, but as far as I know, no law mandates such a notice. Six months notice, to me, would be way too long. It would seem to me that PAL should have enough pilots to be able to avoid these kinds of problems. So far, though, I have not heard a number on just how many pilots have resigned from their jobs, so perhaps the number is so large that it has put PAL in a tight spot, despite their contingency plans. I don’t know for sure on that.
President Aquino has stepped in and advised PAL that they need to step up and act responsibly to put any labor issues aside so that adequate staff can keep the airline in the air. PAL has responded by saying that there are no labor issues. It does make me wonder, though, why so many pilots are leaving suddenly, that does not seem natural. I saw one report saying that many pilots are not actually quitting, but being fired. That does not sound correct to me, but I did read it in one of the local newspapers, though.
It will be interesting to see what happens this week, because President Aquino has instructed the DOTC (Dept of Transportation and Communications) to take action and investigate what is going on with PAL. It will be interesting to see what they find.
So, for any of you who plan to be visiting the Philippines, if you have flights on Philippine Airlines, be they Domestic or International flights, be sure to make plans, because there is a possibility that your flight will be grounded, unless some action happens quickly.