PAL to retrench more employees as pandemic guts demand for flights

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2020 09:37 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2020 12:01 AM

Passengers board a Philippine Airlines plane. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA - Philippine Airlines announced on Monday that it may retrench up to 35 percent of its more than 7,000 workers because of the collapse of the demand for air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PAL said it has begun to call on employees to apply for voluntary separation, which is the first stage of the company's manpower reduction initiative. 

"The retrenchment is part of a larger restructuring and recovery plan as the flag carrier rebuilds its domestic and international network amid the global pandemic," PAL said. 

Since March 2020, PAL said it has suspended capital expenditures, adopted a skeletal work force, reduced management salaries, and slashed non-essential expenses to control costs. 

Shareholders meanwhile infused capital and provided funding to keep the company afloat, PAL said.

Earlier this year in February, PAL said it was laying off 300 employees under a "business restructuring" made more urgent by the coronavirus outbreak that slowed world air travel.

In July, Cebu Pacific also announced it would lay off more than 800 employees by August, while AirAsia Philippines said it was letting go of 12 percent of its workforce or over 200 employees.

PAL said that at the height of the pandemic, it tried to keep jobs by implementing temporary furloughs and flexible working arrangements. 

"However, the collapse in travel demand and persistent travel restrictions on most global and domestic routes have made retrenchment inevitable, with PAL currently operating less than 15 percent of its normal number of daily flights after eight months of lockdowns," PAL said. 

The retrenchment program will combine voluntary and involuntary measures, to be carried out within the current fourth quarter of 2020, the company said.