Unseen frontliners keep planes airworthy during pandemic: Lufthansa

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 07:26 PM

A Lufthansa Technik Philippines worker ensures the safety of planes during the coronavirus pandemic. Handout.

MANILA - Lufthansa Technik Philippines said Monday its aircraft mechanics were some of the unseen frontliners who are keeping planes safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

At least a quarter of the total 3,300 workers remain on duty to ensure airworthiness of airplanes and servicing aircraft in Manila, Clark, Cebu and Davao, Lufthansa Technik Philippines said in a statement.

Some 300 of them work in terminals while the rest are on aircraft maintenance duties, it said, adding that aircraft maintenance is "critical" to ensure safety of planes carrying repatriated Filipinos and cargo such as food and medical supplies.

All land, air and sea travel were suspended when the entire island of Luzon was placed under lockdown on March 17. It has since been relaxed to modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31.

“We contribute to our country’s goal to ‘flatten the curve’ through servicing and providing flight mechanics to cargo flights loaded with export/import goods and medical supplies and servicing repatriation flights of our fellow Filipinos stranded abroad due to the lockdown," said Lufthansa section manager Eugene Estigoy.

Though working on limited staffing, its maintenance teams handles 2 planes per day from the usual 4 to 5, the company said. It operate at least 10 flights per day from at least 250 flights before COVID-19, it said.

The aircraft maintenance team, working on limited staffing, still handles two planes every day, from the usual four to five, to ensure efficiency, as well maintenance work for grounded aircraft.

Workers are provided with personal protective equipment, vitamins and sanitation booths to avoid contracting the disease, it said.

Although working through a pandemic added "pressure," aircraft mechanic Joseph Jemar Villanueva said it was a "balancing act of responsibly keeping a customer’s aircraft airworthy and released on time, as well as keeping ourselves safe and in good health condition for our family."

Teamwork, proper communication and coordination are key to making it work while operating under a skeletal workforce, said avionics mechanic Brenda Bhee Anuran.

For plane crew chief Ramon Ganaden, working during a pandemic and being a frontliner is a civic duty.

“To volunteer to be part of the skeletal workforce of LTP is a very brave choice. It is courage over fear... It is my duty to help in this time of pandemic in my own little way for I believe I am part of those so-called brave frontliners in the aviation industry."