'PAL flight cancellations may affect tourist arrivals'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2010 04:44 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2010 01:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim raised concerns over the exodus of Philippine Airlines' pilots as flight cancellations may affect foreign arrivals.

"This will make the local airline industry look unreliable. This is already the second blow to the tourism industry," Lim said, noting that tourist arrivals had previously taken a hit when Philippine planes were prevented from flying to Europe due to the downgrade of the government's aviation safety rating.

Over two dozen pilots of PAL have resigned, prompting the cancellation and rescheduling of domestic and international flights on Saturday.

On Monday, PAL’s office for corporate communications said flights from Manila to Iloilo and Bacolod, and from Cagayan de Oro to Manila were also cancelled.

The Lucio Tan-led carrier said their pilots quit to work for airlines in Asia and the Middle East where the pay is better. PAL added that they left without giving the airline ample time to train replacements.

While Lim admitted that the labor dispute is already beyond their control, he said he will meet with Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus to explore mitigating measures such as allowing foreign airlines to take over PAL's place.

Currently, PAL corners up to 40% of both domestic and international flights in the Philippines.

The flag carrier is undergoing a restructuring, which involves the spin-off of its call center, in-flight catering and airport services that, in turn, entails letting go of some 3,500 employees.

The cost-cutting will save the ailing company about P500 million to P1 billion a year. - Report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News