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PAL to lay off 2,300 employees as pandemic continues to hammer air travel

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Feb 02, 2021 7:54 am

Philippine Airlines (PAL) will let go a number of its employees as travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mute air travel.

In a Feb. 2 statement, the flag carrier said the reduction program will affect 2,300 employees, or about 30% of its workforce, and will cover voluntary separation and involuntary retrenchment.

The affected personnel will continue to be employed until mid-March of 2021, the airline said.

“This has been an extremely difficult and painful decision. For our colleagues who are leaving, rest assured that we are committed to support you through this transition. We extend to you our deepest gratitude for your years of hard work and dedicated service, and we will always cherish the ties you have established with the PAL family,” said PAL president Gilbert Sta. Maria.

According to PAL, employees were informed about the retrenchment program as early as October 2020.

In February last year, the airline let go of 300 employees “to increase revenues and reduce costs” amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In October, the company further cut 2,700 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic halted tourism and countries continued to apply border restrictions, which massively affected the global airline industry.

The airline, however, assured its customers and partners that its operations will continue without disruption and would continue to “gradually increase international and domestic flights as demand recovers.”

PAL also continues to mount special repatriation flights to bring home stranded Filipinos, like how it did during the early months of the pandemic where its aircraft were used to bring home Filipinos from Wuhan, China, and the crewmembers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.

The airline currently operates less than 30% of its normal pre-pandemic number of weekly flights.

Almost one year after leisure travel was grounded by pandemic, tourism has started to slowly reopen in the Philippines and different parts of the world. But the low demand for travel and continuous implementation of most travel restrictions continue to choke the travel and tourism sectors, which are among the most affected industries, since March 2020.

In its report in December 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimated that worldwide, the decline in international tourism in 2020 is equivalent to a loss of about one billion arrivals and $1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts alone. Asia and the Pacific region has the biggest chunk of decrease in arrival at 82%.

With several countries already doing its vaccine rollout, the UNWTO believes that traveling would gradually increase consumer confidence and contribute to ease travel restrictions.

Banner image by Edd Gumban/The Philippine STAR