Travel agencies: competitors can take over PAL routes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2010 05:00 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2010 02:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Travel agencies are urging other local airlines to pick up the slack in domestic air travel and service the routes affected by the impasse in the labor dispute between the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) and the 25 resigned pilots.

Other carriers such as Cebu Pacific and Zest Air can step in for the meantime as talks to settle the feud  are ongoing, said John Paul Cabalza, vice president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association.

"We are really calling for the dispute to end, and for us to really move forward," Cabalza said in a phone patch interview with ANC's On the Scene program.

The deadlock in negotiations, according to Cabalza, is hurting both the riding public and travel agencies.

"In the past few days, we are estimating a loss of 30% that has been taken from the business. Aside from air seats not taken care of, we also sell rooms in various tourists destinations like Bohol, Boracay, Cebu and Palawan. These too were affected."

While PAL plays a vital role in the industry and carries a big chunk of domestic passengers, the other airlines can look into the possibility of handling the affected routes, said Cabalza.

"June to October is the lean season of the tourism industry. When you look into it, other carriers can handle both the prime and secondary or missionary routes."

He said that PAL can also consider subcontracting its other routes that it can no longer service because of the lack of pilots.

"At the end of the day, the ones most troubled are the riding public, especially sick people who need to be carried over to other places (for treatment)."

As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 domestic flights of PAL had to be cancelled: PR 182 bound for Cagayan, PR 147 bound for Iloilo and PR 135 bound for Bacolod.