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Old August 1st, 2010, 07:27 AM   #641
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RP wins arbitration case in Singapore
Clears Terminal 3 ownership dispute

July 31, 2010

The Republic of the Philippines won the arbitration case filed by Philippine International Air Terminals Co.(Piatco) in Singapore-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for payment of its expenses incurred in the construction of NAIA airport's Terminal 3.

The ICC decision is final and executory and should paved the way for the full operation and grant of legal right by the Philippine government to airport terminal concessionaires. Three foreign airlines are currently building their business lounges at the international wing of Terminal 3.

The Philippine government was represented in Singapore by U.S. based arbitration lawyer Andrea J. Menaker of White& Chase LLP based in Washington, with retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano and Supreme Court nominee Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

The government saved almost $1.1 billion claimed by PIATCO and its foreign partner Fraport AG,of Germany following its victory in its arbitration case in Singapore. Fraport operates Frankfurt airport and is partially owned by the Frankfurt City government.

The dismissal follows the decision in a similar case filed by Fraport with the Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

In 1997 and 1998, the government of the Philippines awarded Philippine International Air Terminals Co, Inc (PIATCO) the right to build and operate an airport terminal by way of several concession contracts. PIATCO finished construction and declared that the terminal was ready for handover in November 2002. However, in January 2003, the Philippine government argued that the concession agreements were null and void. PIATCO and Fraport commenced an ICC arbitration.

Fraport filed a petition for arbitration and sued for $425 million in damages at ICSID saying that the Philippines has expropriated the investments of Fraport in NAIA-3 in alleged violation of the Philippines-Germany Bilateral Investment Treaty forged on April 17, 1997.

ICSID dismissed Fraport claim of compensation in 2007 against the Philippine government for violation of its domestic laws.

At the ICC in Singapore, Piatco filed a $560-million damage suit against the government in 2004 after President Arroyo voided the Piatco contract which decision was upheld later by the Philippine Supreme Court.

The ICC decided in August 23, 2006 that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GOP) should cease occupation and give up possession of NAIA Terminal 3 pending settlement of dispute. The government offered payment of proffered compensation for its right to stay as the tribunal determine PIATCO's claim.

Meanwhile, the government filed two counter-suits against the claim, each asking for $900 million, against Germany’s Fraport AG before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC, and against Piatco before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Singapore. Fraport owns 30 percent of Piatco.

Two airlines currently operates at NAIA's terminal 3, namely Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines Express. Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and undisclosed Middle East Airline are reported to use Terminal 3 before the end of the year, while other foreign airlines are expected to sign the occupancy contract following the Singapore decision.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 07:30 AM   #642
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RP to get US missiles
August 1, 2010

By Jocelyn. R Uy and Christian V. Esguerra

Manila —The United States has pledged to provide the Philippines with $18.4-million worth of precision-guided missiles this year to use in its fight against Islamist militants in the south, according to a military document seen by Reuters.

The missiles are being funded under a US Congress Act that allows the US Defense Department to train and equip foreign armies allied with Washington to fight terrorists across the world since 2006.

Troops in the southern Philippines have said they need unmanned drones to help hunt down Abu Sayyaf bandits and Jemaah Islamiyah militants on small remote islands.

National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia yesterday said he had yet to officially receive information on the reported assistance offer, “but on principle, we welcome it.”

“Accuracy and precision are important in any military operations to avoid civilian collateral damage. We have to learn from what has happened in Afghanistan,” Garcia told the Inquirer.

A Philippine defense official disputed the report, saying that what the US government had promised was $4-million worth of “enhanced precision capability” package involving software for aircraft of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The assistance will not involve precision-guided missiles, defense department spokesperson Eduardo Batac said.

War on terror

Reuters said the military document it had seen states: “Fiscal year 2010 assistance for the Philippines provides a precision-guided missile capability to assist Philippine armed forces’ counterterrorism efforts in southern regions to combat the activities of the Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf Group.”

The document was shown to Reuters by a defense department official on condition of anonymity, the British news agency said.

Precision-guided missiles are unmanned explosives directed against a target. They can be controlled from a remote location or have their own internal guidance system. Guided missiles can be launched from aircraft, ships, submarines, land vehicles, or even individual soldiers on the ground.

A US Embassy spokesperson confirmed there were funds available to the Philippines under the program, but did not comment on what they would be used for, Reuters said.

The Philippines has no missile capability. Most of its ships and aircraft are Vietnam War vintage. It spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) for defense and security, but 70 percent of the budget goes to paying salaries and allowances of its 130,000-member army.

Need for precision

Speaking to reporters at Camp Aguinaldo, Batac said the latest US grant to the Philippines, a Washington ally in the fight against terrorism, would involve merely an “enhancement” of the precision capabilities of the AFP.

“It is a project that will provide basically some software and other equipment which will allow the Air Force to perform enhanced precision capability,” Batac said.

Existing armaments of the AFP can be adjusted for the purpose, he said. “You can use any munitions ... It’s a matter of modifying, converting and providing the guidance system,” he added.

Groundwork on the platform for the new software started early this year, but there is no word yet if installation of the software is already being carried out, Batac said.

The Philippine Air Force’s OV-10 Broncos—which support ground troops in fighting Muslim extremists—have been lined up for the upgrade.

The OV-10s are normally armed with four 7.62 mm machine guns and also carry 2.75-inch rocket pods, 5-inch Zuni rocket pods or a combination of both. The aircraft can also carry 750-pound bombs.

“There is a certain number [of this aircraft] that is going to be equipped because we are talking of a finite amount that has been committed, so definitely we can only use that fund for a specific number,” Batac explained.

A check with the PAF showed that it actually has 16 OV-10 aircraft. But only 10 are currently operational, PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Okol said.

Under US control

In a phone interview, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. discounted the prospect of the US government arming the Philippine military with precision-guided missiles.

“If ever this equipment will be used in the Philippines, the US themselves will deploy them, like in Afghanistan and Iraq ... These (precision-guided missiles) are never given to any local armies,” Mabanta said.

He added that the AFP at present did not need such a sophisticated armament in fighting Muslim extremists in Mindanao but it would “gladly accept” such a US grant if it would materialize.

“If it is in our hands, we will use it ... but what we need (now) is to just further improve on our intelligence collection,” Mabanta said.

Southern sanctuaries

Since 2006, the United States has allocated about $1.2 billion under the National Defense Authorization Act to help boost counterterrorism capability of about 35 allies across the world.

Including the funds for the missiles, the Philippines has received more than $73 million under the program. Indonesia and Malaysia have received smaller amounts to improve maritime border control.

Some islands in the southern Philippines have become training bases and a sanctuary for Southeast Asian Islamist militants. Intelligence reports say about 50 Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean militants have been hiding in mainland Mindanao and the nearby islands of Basilan and Jolo since early 2000.

Since 2000, Washington, through the State Department, has also provided about $500 million for military and development aid to help win over the Muslim minority in the mainly Roman Catholic country. -- Reuters, Inquirer Research
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Old August 1st, 2010, 07:35 AM   #643
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PAL flights grounded after Pilots left without notice
July 31, 2010

At least a dozen pilots walked out from office this week and left the company without notice grounding 11 flights out of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport Saturday.

PAL spokesman Jonathan Gesmundo said the problem came as a surprise to them as some of their pilots have applied for work in other airlines without the courtesy of informing management.

"In the past few days, pilots had not been reporting for duty. This has caused problems for us," Gesmundo said in a radio interview.

He said the airline was adjusting its schedule and will probably bring in bigger aircraft to accommodate the stranded passengers.
Philippine Airlines had to cancel at least five flights, one bound for Hong Kong, the others to domestic destinations in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Iloilo after several of its Airbus A320 abandoned the company for jobs abroad.

In a statement on Saturday, PAL apologized to its passengers inconvenienced by the disruption of several flights schedules of their Airbus A320 airplanes.

"The indiscriminate resignation of PAL's A320 pilots for flying jobs abroad whose salaries PAL is unable to match, is in violation of their contracts with PAL as well pertinent government regulations that require resigning pilots to give PAL six months prior notice to be able to train their replacements," the statement read.

The company said it will file appropriate charges soon against pilots who chose not to report for work immediately after submitting their resignation letters. The indebted flag carrier has said it would lay off some of its 8,000-strong work force because of financial losses in the third straight year.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 11:52 PM   #644
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ouch to PAL!! hope that flights to the US aren't disrupted. this is a serious problem for PAL.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 02:52 AM   #645
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PIATCO Tried to dupe Aquino on Terminal 3
By Jarius Bondoc

August 2, 2010

The NAIA Terminal-3 scam spanned three administrations. It nearly tainted a fourth one, the just-inaugurated P-Noy team. This was just before last week’s victory of the Philippine government in the Singapore lawsuit filed by contractor Piatco.

Storm began to stir in 1996 under Fidel Ramos when Filipino-owned Piatco stole the deal from an existing proponent. Instead of erecting a facility in 30 months as contracted, undercapitalized Piatco trawled for a financier and snagged German airport builder-operator Fraport. The first thing Piatco-Fraport did upon partnering in July 1998 was to renegotiate onerous terms from the month-old admin of Joseph Estrada. In all, over the next two years, they wangled four major revisions to reduce their costs and increase potential incomes. Only then did a structure begin to rise, very shoddily. Within three months of Gloria Arroyo’s takeover in 2001 more bribes changed hands for approvals of yet lesser quality construction. Piatco-Fraport hired a three-month “PR consultant” for a “fee” of over a hundred million dollars that actually went to the latest officials. The shit hit the fan; domestic and overseas lawsuits were filed to free the Philippines from the lopsided contract.

Early last month word spread around that the International Chamber of Commerce in Singapore was about to rule in favor of RP. Reportedly a tycoon who wants to buy out Piatco frantically sent emissaries to the week-old Noynoy Aquino tenure. Their mission: to dupe the new admin into settling out of court. Time wasn’t on their side. The Aquino team was too busy familiarizing itself with an inherited mess to listen to carpetbaggers. Besides, it was steeped in its campaign vow of clean government. Still Mr. Aquino must be told of the double agents in his inner circle. Starting today state solicitors, once sidelined by co-opted superiors for striving to win RP’s case, will brief the new President on the 14-year-old scam. Perhaps the Truth Commission will also investigate the culprits. For, not only did billions of pesos change hands, but RP’s reputation in Europe also was blackened. Public officials and private lawyers had connived to cover up misdeeds via money laundering and document counterfeiting in Manila and abroad. Lives have been lost.

Bloodstains on the Piatco-Fraport scandal are among the Arroyo regime’s hundreds of unsolved murders of jurists, journalists and militants. Hendrick Guingoyon, the judge trying the Terminal-3 expropriation, was assassinated in August 2005 in the midst of talks for just compensation for Piatco. In December the following year Assistant Solicitor General Nestor Ballocillo and his son were shot dead on their way to work. Ballocillo had been arguing in court that Piatco-Fraport were entitled to recompense of only $144 million, based on their submitted incurred expenses. Piatco was trying to collect $540 million, and Fraport $425 million, but he insisted the difference had gone to bribes and thus non-reimbursable. After one such hearing a grenade was lobbed at Jose Bernas, lawyer of Terminal-3 original proponent Asian Emerging Dragons Corp. He survived the blast.

Extortionate government bosses had hindered the case from the start. Despite the odds, the state and private lawyers fought on to win five major battles. First was in the Department of Justice, which annulled the deal for technical, financial and procedural flaws. Then, they got the Senate Blue-Ribbon committee to gather evidence of fraud and recommend indictment. The Supreme Court upheld both findings. Fraport ran to the International Court for the Settlement of Industrial Disputes in Washington DC, to make the Philippines pay up, but the ICSID declined to rule after noting the German firm’s violation of anti-dummying laws. Lastly, Piatco pressed its own collection before the ICC-Court of Arbitration in Singapore, which also pointed up legal breaches. Perhaps the only time Piatco-Fraport scored was when the court ordered the government to pay an initial P3 billion for expropriating the unfinished terminal; but then, the money allegedly went to the fund releasers. Malacañang during Arroyo’s term kept signaling RP counsels to backpedal. Still Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo persisted in having the deal voided. The US lawyers White and Case nearly resigned yet won the Washington lawsuit. Lead Philippine lawyer, retired justice Florentino Regalado, left the case midway. At one point Arroyo received an ultimatum from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to settle the issue; she ignored her.

Hopefully all this will come up in the briefings for P-Noy. It might sway him to include the Terminal-3 rip-off among the Truth Commission’s investigative assignments. Also, to include the 800 or so political murders under the Arroyo regime as priority.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:28 AM   #646
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While I'm happy that NAIA-3 is finally resolved, I do not like how this sycophant of Noynoy named Jarius Bondoc is shaming and crucifying Gloria for something she is not exactly responsible for. Well, that is unless it can be proven that the allegation of repeated delays at the ICC which were reportedly caused by Gloria are true.

Someone should remember here: Gloria is not the source of this mess. Erap was, and she made it (somewhat) worse. Noynoy is merely benefiting from the case's victory without even lifting a finger.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:46 PM   #647
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Pilots given 7-day ultimatum as PAL rushes to fix schedules
JESSE EDEP, GMANews.TV

(Updated 8:10 p.m.) Pilots who left flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) without giving the company ample time to train their replacements have been ordered to return to work within seven days or face civil, criminal and administrative charges.

In a statement issued Sunday, PAL said the mass resignation of the pilots, which had caused a number of canceled flights, were illegal and in violation of their existing contracts.

“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," the Lucio Tan-owned airline said.

It said the pilots left the company without prior notice.

“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," PAL said.

No less than President Benigno Aquino III has said these pilots could be charged for allegedly breaching their contracts.

“There has been disruption to our tourism efforts and to other aspects of the economy.... If this [pilots' not reporting for duty] is not warranted, they lay themselves open with appropriate charges," Aquino said at a press briefing Sunday.

"Mission Critical Skills"

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.

Eight domestic flights were canceled Sunday due to lack of pilots, while at least 11 were canceled the previous day because of the same reason.

PAL said all schedules will return to normal within the week.

PAL sought public understanding as it adjusts flight schedules and merges some flights.

The eight canceled flights on Sunday included Manila-Cagayan-Manila (PR181/182), Manila-Bacolod-Manila (PR133/134), Manila-Iloilo-Manila (PR147/148), and Manila-Cebu-Manila (PR847/848).

A Manila-Iloilo-Manila flight (PR145/146) that usually departs Manila at 4:20 p.m. was rescheduled to 6:30 p.m.

All apologies

PAL apologized to the affected passengers and said it has already 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," it said.

PAL said it is now having dialogues with government agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to avoid the loss of more pilots to what it described as “poachers" abroad.

It admitted that the pilots’ salary, although “high" by local standards, is “still no match" to the offer of foreign countries.

“Our problem is, our competitors abroad seem to prefer PAL pilots because they were highly-trained by PAL and renowned for their flying skills," the airline added.

Unavailable flights?

Meanwhile, at least six PAL flights between Manila and three major cities may remain unavailable on Monday, two days after PAL's pilots suddenly failed to show up for work.

Visitors booking a flight from Manila to Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod via PAL's website late Sunday got error messages showing there will be no flights available there on Monday.

"There are no flights available for your preferred date(s). Please choose other dates to continue," the message read when visitors sought to book flights for the two destinations.

PAL's website also showed there are no flights from Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro to Manila on Monday.

On the other hand, PAL's website indicated there will be flights between Manila and Cebu on Monday.

While PAL's website initially indicated a flight from Iloilo to Manila (PR-146), which leaves Iloilo at 6:05 p.m., the page contained an error message indicating no flight from Iloilo to Manila on Monday as of 7:50 p.m. – KBK, GMANews.TV
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:48 PM   #648
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Govt officials meet with PAL execs, pilots but fail to resolve row
08/02/2010 | 08:08 PM

Malacañang on Monday failed to resolve the row between the management and pilots of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) that has already resulted to a number of canceled flights since Saturday.

“It’s still a work in progress. We have tried to ask the PAL officials what the issues are and we tried to do the same with representatives of the pilots," said Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus at a press briefing after the separate meetings with PAL and Cebu Pacific officials and with the pilots’ representatives.

“What we have agreed on is we will meet with the other pilots tomorrow [Tuesday] and arrange a dialogue with PAL," he added.

More than 20 flights have already been canceled after a number of pilots resigned reportedly to seek better opportunities abroad. PAL said these pilots resigned without giving the company ample time to train their replacements and has given them seven days to return to work or face sanctions.

De Jesus refused to provide details on what has been discussed during the meetings, which both lasted for hours. “The issues we discussed are still to be settled and I am not yet in position to discuss the issues in detail," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III was not present in the meetings. De Jesus said there was no need to involve the President in the dialogue.

Government officials who were at the meetings were De Jesus, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, senior deputy executive secretary Amor Amorado, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) general manager Alfonso Cusi.

Also present were PAL president Jaime Bautista, Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) president Elmer Peña, and officials of Cebu Pacific Airlines led by its president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei.

De Jesus said to minimize the inconvenience to the public due to the cancellation of the flights, PAL has promised to publish a new schedule where some flights would be merged and a larger aircraft would be used to accommodate affected passengers.

He said Cebu Pacific would be asked to take over the unserved domestic routes of PAL. He, however, added the stop-gap measure could not be done in the international flights since Cebu Pacific “is fully stretched."

De Jesus expressed hope that the problem would be resolved “within a week" after the Cabinet members reminded PAL and ALPAP officials that they are engaged in a public service that is fraught with partakes of public interest.

“They should be aware that the pilots’ licenses and airlines’ franchise is given by the government," he said.

He said the PAL dispute affected trade, tourism and the Philippines’ reputation.

De Jesus said the possible impact of the planned strike this week by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) was not discussed since it is considered as a “labor problem."

FASAP is mulling a strike due to PAL management’s alleged violations of its collective bargaining agreement. - KBK, GMANews.TV
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 07:49 PM   #649
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PAL: 3-4 days needed to normalize flight schedules
08/02/2010 | 05:00 PM

At least three to four days may be needed before flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) gets its flight schedules back on track, an airline official admitted Monday.

PAL president Jaime Bautista gave the estimate in a radio interview as he apologized to the riding public for the inconvenience caused by the sudden departure of PAL’s pilots.

“Kami ay humihingi ng paumanhin at siguro tatlo hanggang apat na araw mag-normalize siguro ang scheduled flights ng PAL (We are asking for forgiveness and we may need three to four days before our flight schedules can get back to normal)," Bautista said in an interview on dzRH radio.

Two flights — PR 147 (Manila to Iloilo) and PR 135 (Manila to Bacolod) — were canceled Monday as PAL rushes to train new pilots that will replace those who resigned reportedly to seek better opportunities abroad.

PAL had given the concerned pilots seven days to return to work or face sanctions.

President Benigno Aquino III has already ordered officials of the concerned government agencies to help resolve the problem, which he said is detrimental to the country’s tourism industry.

For now, Bautista said they are trying to accommodate passengers into other flights.

“Ayaw naming mangyari yan, subali’t nagkaroon ng ganyang problema. Pangako namin pilitin namin malipat sila at nilipat namin sila sa ibang flights (We don’t want this problem, but it’s here. All we can do is to accommodate passengers on other flights)," he said. – KBK, GMANews.TV
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 02:32 AM   #650
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PAL to take 25 pilots back
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 00:00

No sanctions, vows DOTC secretary
BY CRIS G. ODRONIA REPORTER AND DARWIN G. AMOJELAR SENIOR REPORTER

The management of flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has agreed to take back 25 pilots who have resigned without any sanctions being imposed on them, Secretary Jose de Jesus of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said on Monday. Government officials on Monday met separately with the management of PAL and the union representing the pilots who resigned to discuss and resolve the issues that led to the cancellation of several domestic and international flights.


“It is still a work in progress, we have tried to ask PAL officials what the issues are. We also did the same with the pilots,” de Jesus told a press briefing after their separate meetings with the PAL management and the representatives of the pilots.


Though he declined to discuss the issues, the Transportation secretary said that compensation was part of the problem.


To minimize the inconvenience of the public, de Jesus said that the flag-carrier has promised to publish its schedule of flights. He added that PAL also promised to merge some of its flights and to use larger aircraft.


“As along as the passengers know in advance, they will know how to book their flights,” de Jesus said.

“What they will try to do is try to invite back those who have resigned, some of them have left the country, some of them are still here and they will try to talk to them and try to persuade them to come back without any sanctions being imposed,” he added.


De Jesus said that the row between PAL and its pilots would certainly affect the economy unless the issue was resolved immediately.


“It will affect trade, it will affect tourism and ultimately it will affect our reputation. This is the matter we are putting before both the pilots and PAL management to be aware that this has serious consequences unless it is resolved,” he added.


The Transportation chief, however, expressed hope they would be able to resolve the issues.


“We are very hopeful that with good faith on both sides, we should be able to reach some agreement,” de Jesus said.

Public interest
He urged both the pilots and the management of PAL “to remember that they are engaged in public service that pertains to public service.”


De Jesus said that the PAL management and the pilots were both aware that the government has the right to sanction them if the both parties fail to resolve the issues.


He added that they would meet again with the other representatives of the pilots who have resigned from PAL today. After the meeting, de Jesus said that they will arrange a dialogue with PAL between the two groups anytime this week.


“We are doing our best to try to resolve this issue and to minimize the inconvenience that these flight cancellations resulting from the exodus of pilots,” he added.


President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier ordered Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and the heads of the departments of Transportation and Communication, Labor and Justice to sit down with the PAL management and the union representing the pilots.


“Under the Labor Code, the government can step into a particular controversy if the national interest is at stake,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said prior to the Monday afternoon meeting.


Lacierda also expressed hopes that the two parties could arrive at an amicable settlement.


“We hope it will come to that settlement because our concern right now are the riding public who will be severely affected if this situation continues,” he said.


PAL cancelled several flights after what the management called the “indiscriminate” resignation of their pilots.


Request to return
Before the meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the management of PAL requested the Aquino administration to stop the pilots who had resigned from flying with foreign carriers as they still have contracts with the country’s flag-carrier.

Jaime Bautista, PAL president, said that they want the government to ask the pilots to comply with their contractual agreements before leaving the flag-carrier.

The airline said that 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 earlier said that a local pilot only received a salary of $2,000 to $3,000 compared to the $8,000 to $12,000 a month that the foreign airlines offer.

The airline has given the 25 resigned pilots to return to work within seven days or face civil, criminal and administrative charges.

On Monday, Bautista said that PAL canceled four flights.

He disclosed that no pilot has reported back to work.

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.

The airline intensified the training of more pilots to fill the gap.

A total of 120 pilots from all local airlines have left the country since 2000.

The country has more than 700 pilots, 450 of whom work for PAL.




Stewards complain

Meanwhile, the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (Fasap) said that the flights of PAL have been flying “undermanned” for the past couple of years that “adversely affects” the airline’s services.

In a statement, Roberto Anduiza, president of Fasap, said that many flight attendants have also been transferring to other foreign airlines because of lack of security of tenure and the labor problems in PAL.

On April 6, 2010, Anduiza said that PAL management unilaterally reduced the number of flight attendants in its flights, resulting in more work but less pay for the crew.

He added that reducing manpower per flight will be a downgrade rather than an improvement of PAL’s inflight service product.

“PAL has been getting away with its obligations to the riding public. Flights have been taking off undermanned for the past couple of years. This adversely affects the service and safety performance the passenger deserve,” Anduiza said.

Sought for comment, Bautista said that although the airline reduced the number of cabin crew, the reduction still made manning of the flag-carrier comparable with that of other airlines.

He, however, added that the manning complement of PAL is still higher than the minimum number required by law.

Fasap earlier announced its decision to go on strike against PAL’s policy on age and gender discrimination and failure of the management to raise their salary for more than three years.

For the years 2007 and 2008, PAL gave pay increases to members of management, the pilots and other ground personnel, except the flight attendants
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 12:11 PM   #651
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Gov't prepares for 'worst-case scenarios' in PAL row
abs-cbnNEWS.com
Posted at 08/03/2010 3:12 PM | Updated as of 08/03/2010 3:12 PM

Government take-over a possibility

MANILA, Philippines - The government is now preparing for a dialogue between the management and pilots of the Philippine Airlines (PAL), but it is not ruling out possible resolutions in case of “worst-case scenarios.”

In an interview with ANC's Dateline Philippines on Tuesday, Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose de Jesus said he and other Cabinet members are already discussing options in case PAL fails to reach an agreement with its resigned pilots.

“To be quite honest, we’re still preparing for that. We’re trying to explore, there are many imponderables. We’re trying to reduce the risks involved,” he said.

Gov’t taking over PAL?

De Jesus said a government takeover of the country’s flag carrier is not yet on the horizon, “but those options are not being ruled out. How likely they can happen is something we don’t know at this point.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who has been attending meetings with PAL stakeholders, said a government takeover is an “absolute option.”

In a separate press conference, she said: “That is something that we want to avoid if we can. But it does not mean hindi posible yun. So, let’s see in the coming days. Even the flight attendants, nag-threaten na.”

The 1,600-strong Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association warned of a possible strike within the next 2 weeks if the management does not address their concerns with regard to their collective bargaining agreement.

The best thing the government can do for now, while it is trying to get to the bottom of things, is to implement moral suasion and continuous dialogues, she said.

The root problem

De Jesus said another meeting is set Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. with the pilots.

Cabinet officials are holding separate meetings with the management and the pilots, following President Benigno Aquino III’s announcement that the administration would intervene in the problem in the interest of the riding public.

The first meeting was held on Monday, which was attended by no less than PAL owner, business tycoon Lucio Tan.

The Cabinet members met with 2 representatives of the pilots’ union next.

“What has been well-publicized in the media is the side of the management, which says the reason for their resignation in big numbers is because of the offers of better paying jobs by foreign airlines,” de Jesus said.

He noted, however, that this may not be the only reason.

The pilots have also allegedly complained of “demotion” following PAL’s plan to restructure its domestic flights. Some pilots handling international flights may get more domestic flights, as PAL moves to take on competitor Cebu Pacific.

“It could be just the pay, or it could be something else. This is what we’re trying to find out,” he said.

De Jesus said the government may get a clearer view through a dialogue between the management and the pilots, which is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday.

Open-skies policy

De Jesus also said the administration is getting stronger calls for an open-skies policy that will supposedly benefit the country. “We’re open-minded on that. That is a real option,” he said.

Some advocates are saying that other airlines will stand to benefit from the open-skies policy if the labor woes in PAL are not resolved. This could also mean the death of the country’s flag carrier.

“Actually, [Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim] is pushing for that [open-skies policy]. It’s his belief that it will make tourism grow faster…We have to weigh all the consequences,” he said.
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08...narios-pal-row
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 01:47 PM   #652
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky Harbor View Post
The labor disputes are saddening, but the service is still quite excellent.
Yes, their service is still excellent compared to other Philippine local airlines and that is a one, big, true fact about Asia's First Philippine Airlines ! hehehe..lol
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Old August 4th, 2010, 02:45 PM   #653
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PAL pilot cites redundancy, lower pay for resignation
abs-cbnNEWS.com
Posted at 08/04/2010 4:36 PM | Updated as of 08/04/2010 4:40 PM

PAL management says move necessary due to global crisis

MANILA, Philippines - A resigned pilot of Philippine Airlines (PAL) revealed on Wednesday that he and several of his colleagues quit their jobs after the country's flag carrier declared them redundant and decided to transfer them to its low-cost unit, with lower salary and zero benefits.

The management of PAL, meanwhile, defended the move, saying it was just temporary as the ailing airline had to cope with the global crisis.

Resigned PAL pilot, First Officer Henry Claveria, told ANC's Headstart that management asked them to sign a prepared document, declaring them redundant and transferring them to Air Philippines, the budget airline unit of PAL.

Claveria said they were told that those who would refuse to sign would be compensated, but would not be allowed to use their flying skills for another airline.

He said rumors about the transfer surfaced as early as last year, but it was denied by the management.

However, come February, 11 contractual captains, all aged 60 above, were given notice that their contracts had ended and they could transfer to Air Philippines.

"Nagkatotoo na nga ang balita na maglilipat," Claveria said.

After that, 7 regular first officers were also called in and given the same offer.

Claveria declined the offer because his usual P120,000 take home pay would be slashed by P30,000 and his benefits, including medical insurance for his family, would be written off.

Claveria and 24 others who were affected by the redundancy issue filed for resignations. Some of the pilots had taken jobs at international airlines.

The resignations had forced the cancellation of 18 PAL flights over the weekend, and 4 domestic flights on Monday.

Not just about money

Aside from lower pay and instability, the pilots walked out because they did not like how the management of PAL treated them.

Claveria said all PAL pilots have faithfully served the airline, thumbing down bigger offers by overseas carriers in the past.

“Hindi naman puro pera lang ito. Actually, hindi ito pera,” he said.

Claveria said if PAL had been more open about its plans, he and the other pilots would have stayed despite the salary cut.

Temporary response to crisis

PAL management, for its part, defended its move to transfer some of its pilots to its low-cost domestic flight operations.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista said the airline had to respond to the crisis in the global airline industry in 2008 and 2009, as well as address the growing competition from local airlines that offer cheaper air fares like Cebu Pacific.

"Mas malaki ang growth sa low cost market kumpara sa mga legacy airlines which offer more amenities. Mas maraming pasahero ang gustong lumipad ng mas mura kahit na medyo nahihirapan sila. Para naman makakuha kami ng magandang share sa low cost airline industry, nag decide ang management na i-convert ang dalawang eroplano into low cost operation," Bautista said in a phone interview with DZMM on Wednesday.

While PAL was facing stiff competition from the likes of Cebu Pacific in the domestic routes, the global economic downturn also led to reduced long-haul flights for most legacy carriers, and PAL was left with "excess" pilots.

"We had in February some pilots that we considered excess. We told them that for the meantime that the industry has not yet recovered, we can assign you to Air Philippines. But the moment the industry recovers, we will assign you back to PAL. This June, the industry started to recover, we put them back on PAL, these are just a few officers, and their salaries are the same," Bautista said.

He said that PAL management would not force the pilots who resigned to come back, but only wants to recover the costs in training them. He added the pilots should comply with their contracts, which include a 6-month notice if they plan to resign.

"We cannot force them if they don't want to come back, but they have to follow the terms of their contracts. In due time, we will get replacements, we had a similar problem in 2006 when we experienced an exodus of our pilots, but they have to give us proper notice because their skills are critical."

Bautista said there was also no issue about the pilots' retirement package.

"As a result of the 2006 crisis that we had, we made an agreement to further enhance or make their package attractive by doubling their retirement pay if they reach the mandatory retirement age of 60."

Operations back to normal

Bautista said that despite the unresolved issues, PAL's operations are back to normal. It only has to reduce its domestic flights, but its international operations have not been affected.

The airline is beset with other problems as its flight attendants and stewards are also threatening to strike to protest the mandatory retirement age of 40, while other employees, about 3,000, are also contesting PAL's plan to outsource its key operations.

The airline, Bautista said, suffered a loss of $1.4 billion in 2009, and has outstanding debts of about $1 billion.
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Old August 4th, 2010, 02:47 PM   #654
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Philippine Airlines says pilot trouble will hit bottom line
Agence France-Presse
Posted at 08/04/2010 6:31 PM | Updated as of 08/04/2010 6:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines may post a loss in its current fiscal year because of pilot trouble that led to flight cancellations, its listed parent said Wednesday.

The flag carrier, known as PAL, had said it expected to return to profitability in the 12 months to March 2011 after posting a net loss of $14.3 million in its previous fiscal year.

"We wish to confirm that (PAL) may have to revise its targets... because the cancellation of several flights have indeed affected the revenue of PAL," PAL Holdings said in a statement.

Twenty-five pilots and first officers of PAL's short-haul aircraft suddenly quit last week for higher paying jobs abroad.

The synchronised move forced the airline to cancel 22 domestic and regional flights between Saturday and Monday.

On Tuesday the airline said its operations were back to normal but that three domestic flights had been axed indefinitely due to the pilot shortage.

PR Holdings, the investment vehicle for Lucio Tan, PAL chairman and majority shareholder, did not disclose the airline's exact losses from the pilot trouble.

The Philippine government stepped in this week to try to lure back the pilots who left amid threats by PAL management to sue them for breach of contract.

Some of President Benigno Aquino's cabinet ministers are involved in talks with the airline and the pilots' union in an effort to find a resolution.

Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters Wednesday that the talks were continuing, but appeared to douse hopes of an immediate breakthrough.

"We cannot guarantee that it would be resolved this week," he said.

"We thought it was just a simple case of higher wages luring pilots to seek jobs elsewhere," Lacierda said.

But he said the pilots' union had since brought out more complaints against the management.

PAL has been beset by growing labour unrest for months with ground crews and flight attendants also threatening strikes.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:17 AM   #655
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PAL flights grounded after Pilots left without notice
Why declare redundancy in the first place?

July 31, 2010

At least a dozen pilots walked out from office this week and left the company without notice grounding 11 flights out of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport Saturday.

PAL spokesman Jonathan Gesmundo said the problem came as a surprise to them as some of their pilots have applied for work in other airlines without the courtesy of informing management.

"In the past few days, pilots had not been reporting for duty. This has caused problems for us," Gesmundo said in a radio interview.

He said the airline was adjusting its schedule and will probably bring in bigger aircraft to accommodate the stranded passengers.
Philippine Airlines had to cancel at least five flights, one bound for Hong Kong, the others to domestic destinations in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod and Iloilo after several of its Airbus A320 abandoned the company for jobs abroad.

In a statement on Saturday, PAL apologized to its passengers inconvenienced by the disruption of several flights schedules of their Airbus A320 airplanes.

"The indiscriminate resignation of PAL's A320 pilots for flying jobs abroad whose salaries PAL is unable to match, is in violation of their contracts with PAL as well pertinent government regulations that require resigning pilots to give PAL six months prior notice to be able to train their replacements," the statement read.

The company said it will file appropriate charges soon against pilots who chose not to report for work immediately after submitting their resignation letters. The indebted flag carrier has said it would lay off some of its 8,000-strong work force because of financial losses in the third straight year.

But to the PAL pilots who still works with the company, nothing is surprising after all. In fact, its a carefully crafted scheme with the objective of screwing the pilots benefit more.

An ALPAP spokesman who does not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, considering he still works with PAL however said that the resigned pilots themselves were declared reduntant by the Company earlier this year prompting them to seek employment elsewhere, and blamed the airline itself for the mess the management themselves created.

"They were declared redundant by PAL. What do you expect? Wait for the axe to fall onto your head?" says the spokeman.

"They were offered work assignments at Air Philippines but with different terms so they declined. The problem there is that they won't be having the same benefits provided by PAL so they decided to apply outside the country instead." the spokesman said.

"Of course we love the company. But who would fight for it when your back is pushed against the wall? Who would want to work in a company where your security of tenure is not guaranteed? At the end of the day, you still think about the future of your family." the spokesman adds.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:19 AM   #656
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Why the Pilots left?
A captain's Confession
http://philippineairspace.blogspot.c...ine%20Airlines

August 4, 2010

Yesterday, a gag order was circulated by the airline preventing its remaining narrow body pilots, as well as the rest of its employees to speak to the press about what is happening inside our ex-company. Also last night, a meeting was called by the government for us and the management to talk. We intentionally did not attend the meeting because there is nothing to talked about. We have no intention of going back either. We already severed our working relationship with them. Its better for us to see each other in court and just pay whatever damages there is to a breached contract than deal with them again.

On this ground, we also have no intention of showing our faces today at the meeting re-scheduled at 10 a.m. If worse comes to worst, we have or lawyers to defend our rights.

What made us leave is perhaps the best question to ask.

But contrary to management's propaganda of greener pasture abroad, is only half truth of what is really happening inside, a condition which prompted us to decide our fate for a better future. Its not all about the money. Its about respect.

PAL claimed that they are operating at a loss for three years in a row. Honestly, its not our problem if they mismanaged the company with indiscriminate fuel hedging. But it became our problem when some of our peers were declared redundant by the airline for the sheer incompetence of its managers.

And maybe because of a company named Air Philippines.

Last year, the service contracts of four senior Captains, namely De Dios, De la Cruz, Guttierez and Roma were terminated from service months before they were set to retire. The reason given by management was redundancy. Two of those pilots were due to end their contracts, one in about 3 months, and the other in about 6 months time. We found out later on that they were pre-terminated so that the airline could not pay its full retirement benefits.

If management can wrestle its way by short-changing our old guards, then there is no reason for us not to be wary about our own future with the airline. They already have done it with the turboprop pilots which left them without much choice. But maybe not us.

As early as October last year, the time when the axe first fell on the old guards, some of us were already scrambling to get out and find other employers before our time comes. By November some of us were able to contact other airlines and few got interviews as early as December.

True to our fears, a bombshell was dropped in January when information leaked that PAL is consolidating the operations of Pal Express and Air Philippines to compete with Cebu Pacific and that some of us might be transferred to the low cost arm of the airline because they were planning to retain only nine narrow bodies, most likely the ones ordered last year, while giving all the A319/320's to Airphil Express.

We thought there was no problem with that as long as they respect our contract. But behold, they didn't. By February, the next axe dropped when 11 senior Captains and 7 of the most junior First Officers were given redundancy notice. Some of them were even rated to fly the A330.

What is so unusual about the notice is that pilots were flying the average flying time of around 90 hours or more than what is required of them, meaning they are already over-worked. Yet management still declared redundancy when what they should have done is to hire more to cover the extra time.

It turned out that the purpose of redundancy was for them to move somewhere else, somewhere close. In a twist of fate, those declared redundant were offered work assignments at Airphil under a grossly disadvantageous terms to the old one they were currently enjoying at PAL, almost half to be exact, and if they choose to leave, they won't have the chance to work at PAL anymore.

All 18 of them doesn't have much choice, surprised perhaps, and with families to feed and mortgage to pay, they agreed to transfer to Airphil Express which was launched in March 27. And with the third A320 flying in July, its only a matter of time before the next redundancy will come.

Two more A320's from PAL are expected to join the Airphil fleet by October that we are expecting the next round of transfer by September. Therefore, it becomes paramount for us to find greener pasture outside the fence.

Four more aircraft will join the Airphil fleet next year, five aircraft in 2012 and another five in 2013 that by that time there will be no more A320 left in the PAL fleet.

All the remaining A320 pilots started exploring other options available to them before they got hit, both regular and contractual. I was fortunate to be called early. If PAL did not respect the contract of other pilots, then I am not expecting them to respect mine. So why should I respect theirs?

If we can't have security of tenure, then at least it would be a lot better to work elsewhere with the same unsecured job but with maybe a better compensation and benefits. Same risks but better returns.

If they don't respect us, then certainly they don't deserved ours!
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #657
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Pilot cites redundancy, lower pay for resignation
PAL management says move necessary due to global crisis

MANILA, Philippines - A resigned pilot of Philippine Airlines (PAL) revealed on Wednesday that he and several of his colleagues quit their jobs after the country's flag carrier declared them redundant and decided to transfer them to its low-cost unit, with lower salary and zero benefits.

The management of PAL, meanwhile, defended the move, saying it was just temporary as the ailing airline had to cope with the global crisis.

Resigned PAL pilot, First Officer Henry Claveria, told ANC's Headstart that management asked them to sign a prepared document, declaring them redundant and transferring them to Air Philippines, the budget airline unit of PAL.

Claveria said they were told that those who would refuse to sign would be compensated, but would not be allowed to use their flying skills for another airline.

He said rumors about the transfer surfaced as early as last year, but it was denied by the management.

However, come February, 11 contractual captains, all aged 60 above, were given notice that their contracts had ended and they could transfer to Air Philippines.

"Nagkatotoo na nga ang balita na maglilipat," Claveria said.

After that, 7 regular first officers were also called in and given the same offer.

Claveria declined the offer because his usual P120,000 take home pay would be slashed by P30,000 and his benefits, including medical insurance for his family, would be written off.

Claveria and 24 others who were affected by the redundancy issue filed for resignations. Some of the pilots had taken jobs at international airlines.

The resignations had forced the cancellation of 18 PAL flights over the weekend, and 4 domestic flights on Monday.

Not just about money

Aside from lower pay and instability, the pilots walked out because they did not like how the management of PAL treated them.

Claveria said all PAL pilots have faithfully served the airline, thumbing down bigger offers by overseas carriers in the past.

“Hindi naman puro pera lang ito. Actually, hindi ito pera,” he said.

Claveria said if PAL had been more open about its plans, he and the other pilots would have stayed despite the salary cut.


Temporary response to crisis

PAL management, for its part, defended its move to transfer some of its pilots to its low-cost domestic flight operations.

PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista said the airline had to respond to the crisis in the global airline industry in 2008 and 2009, as well as address the growing competition from local airlines that offer cheaper air fares like Cebu Pacific.

"Mas malaki ang growth sa low cost market kumpara sa mga legacy airlines which offer more amenities. Mas maraming pasahero ang gustong lumipad ng mas mura kahit na medyo nahihirapan sila. Para naman makakuha kami ng magandang share sa low cost airline industry, nag decide ang management na i-convert ang dalawang eroplano into low cost operation," Bautista said in a phone interview with DZMM on Wednesday.

While PAL was facing stiff competition from the likes of Cebu Pacific in the domestic routes, the global economic downturn also led to reduced long-haul flights for most legacy carriers, and PAL was left with "excess" pilots.

"We had in February some pilots that we considered excess. We told them that for the meantime that the industry has not yet recovered, we can assign you to Air Philippines. But the moment the industry recovers, we will assign you back to PAL. This June, the industry started to recover, we put them back on PAL, these are just a few officers, and their salaries are the same," Bautista said.

He said that PAL management would not force the pilots who resigned to come back, but only wants to recover the costs in training them. He added the pilots should comply with their contracts, which include a 6-month notice if they plan to resign.

"We cannot force them if they don't want to come back, but they have to follow the terms of their contracts. In due time, we will get replacements, we had a similar problem in 2006 when we experienced an exodus of our pilots, but they have to give us proper notice because their skills are critical."

Bautista said there was also no issue about the pilots' retirement package.

"As a result of the 2006 crisis that we had, we made an agreement to further enhance or make their package attractive by doubling their retirement pay if they reach the mandatory retirement age of 60."

Operations back to normal

Bautista said that despite the unresolved issues, PAL's operations are back to normal. It only has to reduce its domestic flights, but its international operations have not been affected.

The airline is beset with other problems as its flight attendants and stewards are also threatening to strike to protest the mandatory retirement age of 40, while other employees, about 3,000, are also contesting PAL's plan to outsource its key operations.

The airline, Bautista said, suffered a loss of $1.4 billion in 2009, and has outstanding debts of about $1 billion. -- ABS-CBNNEWS
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #658
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FASAP wins injunction against PAL move for early retirement
August 5, 2010

The 1,600 members of the Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines (FASAP) got an injunction from the Regional Trial Court of Makati yesterday against Philippine Airlines plan to implement the flight attendants retirement age policy at 55 according to the 2000 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the airline and the FASAP which expired in July 2007 for being discriminatory.

FASAP is also trying to stop PAL to implement the retirement age policy of newly hired flight attendants at 40 years old, saying they were compelled to sign the agreement against their will for fear of losing their job.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna countered that the compulsory retirement age provision were binding as it went through the legal process during the collective bargaining agreement negotiations undertaken in November 2000.

"No one’s forced them to sign that provision," Villaluna said.

Under that agreement, male and female flight attendants hired before November 1996 were required to retire at 60 and 55. Male and female flight attendants hired after 1996 are required to retire at 45 while those hired after 2000 should comply with the compulsory retirement age of 40.

Aside from the age issue, FASAP is also contesting the sex discrimination policy of the airline and the non-entitlement of maternity benefit to its members, contrary to the claim of Bautista, PAL President, for its medical benefit.

FASAP is also planning to file a notice of strike after PAL refused to bargain collectively with them, three years after their labor agreement expired.

According to its president Roberto Anduiza, PAL has been bargaining in bad faith with them by not cooperating in the mediation process as they refused to submit economic proposals which should have been the basis for new economic provision in the CBA.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:48 AM   #659
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No quick fix for PAL

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo (The Philippine Star)
Updated August 05, 2010 12:00 AM

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is by no means the only major airline company in the world that has been encountering severe problems. There are many airline companies that are in a worse situation compared to PAL. 

Ever since the 9/11 terror attack in New York City, it has been a very bumpy ride for the airline industry. Air travel and revenues naturally plummeted worldwide. Some airlines had been so badly affected and were eventually permanently grounded or taken over.  

Just when the bad effects of the 9/11 terror attack appeared to have been overcome – the global economic crisis resulting from the US sub-prime mess exploded. The world is still recovering from that crisis. 

Thus, the present problem of grounded PAL flights owing to the sudden resignations of some of their pilots should not be simply seen as a labor-management row which can be addressed by a good mediator. President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), with all the goodwill he currently enjoys, might find it difficult to fix the PAL row even if he personally mediates between PAL and the pilots.

It is a fact that in recent years PAL has been losing money. In the airline business, a downward spiral with continued losses over several years equates to mega financial bleeding. Placed in a desperate situation, companies are forced to resort to desperate measures. In most cases, desperate measures include the unpopular cost cutting.

The core problem of the PAL row is the better remuneration other airline companies can offer the PAL pilots. The PAL pilots resigned because another airline firm gave them an offer they cannot refuse. In our reality of ever rising prices, nobody can blame a pilot who will seek to provide a better life for his family.

PAL President Jaime Bautista stated on an ANC interview last Tuesday with Karen Davila on her “Headstart” morning show that the pilots resigned without honoring their agreement to provide PAL with enough time to recruit substitute pilots. PAL had threatened to sue the resigned pilots over that issue.

There were other issues that were raised in media other than the resignations sans the agreed lead time. Among these were the issues on the forced retirement of PAL cabin crew members upon reaching the age of 40 years, the alleged lesser staff assigned to each flight which translates to overworked staff and the alleged long service hours of the PAL flight crews.

Bautista clarified that the forced retirement of the cabin crew members only covered those who were hired after the 2001 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) where this was agreed upon and signed. The PAL President also explained that compared to world flight staff size standards, the PAL flight crews were ahead by one more flight staffer. He also mentioned that compared to the world standard of 100 working hours per month per flight crew staffer, the PAL flight crew members only worked 70 hours a month.

In a Tuesday noon time phone interview on ANC with Dateline Philippines anchors Tony Velasquez and Pinky Webb, Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus explained the government’s interest in settling the PAL row. Sec. Ping de Jesus mentioned that PAL is imbued with public interest. A disruption of PAL operations impacts on trade and commerce, tourism, air transport and tarnishes the image of the country itself. 

Ping admitted that the government really does not have too many options to play in attempting to settle the PAL row. Of course, the last thing the government would want to do is to operate the airline company again. P-Noy would not want to reverse one of the wise decisions his late mother Cory made during her presidency which is to privatize PAL.

Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim is eyeing the long proposed adoption of the controversial Open Skies Policy. That would require a serious deliberation. ANC anchor Tony Velasquez correctly called the Open Skies Policy as something that can accelerate tourism but also accelerate the demise of PAL.

Actually, there are other issues that must be considered with the possible adoption of the Open Skies Policy. This is not simply a case of whether we do not want PAL to exist anymore. The considerations extend beyond the needs of tourism.

People are mistaken when they think that the Open Skies Policy was never adopted because of the political clout of Taipan Lucio Tan. If the Open Skies Policy was really that beneficial to our country, there was no way Lucio Tan could have prevented its adoption. That the Open Skies Policy was never adopted would indicate that neither the previous administrations nor Opposition were convinced that the policy is good for the country.

Without a PAL around, we could be without a local factor to keep the foreign airline firms in check especially in the area of pricing. The sooner the present PAL difficulties are normalized, the better. What remains to be done is to seek a more lasting and encompassing solution to the many big and complex problems PAL faces. Whether we like Lucio Tan or not, the fact is PAL is part of the Philippine national interest.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 10:50 AM   #660
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PAL pilots willing to return: Aquino aide
By Manolo B. Jara August 05, 2010
http://gulftoday.ae/portal/71e2b315-...7497f070f.aspx

MANILA: Some pilots of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) are willing to return once their differences with management have been resolved, a ranking official of the Aquino administration disclosed on Wednesday.

Secretary Jose de Jesus of the Department of Transportation and Communication described the pilots stand as a “positive development” which could end the labor dispute that resulted in either the cancellation or delay in most of the domestic flights of PAL, the nation’s flag carrier.

Interviewed by GMA News, De Jesus said they would again meet Wednesday afternoon with PAL officials and the pilots’ representatives in a determined attempt to end the dispute.

De Jesus also said in his talks with the pilots, some told him they were willing to return and work for PAL.

But more than that, the pilots told him they could even convince their colleagues who already left the country to return, according to De Jesus.

About 25 PAL pilots resigned to join foreign airlines which offered them salaries which have been thrice the pay they have been receiving.

Their sudden departure left PAL with the problem of acute lack of pilots, forcing the company in the last few days to cancel or delay flights in its domestic as well as regional and international routes.

As of Wednesday, a PAL spokesman said their domestic flight operations have returned to normal, except for three routes — two in the Visayas in Central Philippines and one in Mindanao, which have been cancelled.

But one of the pilots who resigned pointed out in a separate interview with ANC News that a salary dispute is not the main issue involved in the dispute.

Henry Claveria, a first officer, denounced management for making it difficult for them to continue working for PAL.
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