PAL Strike Imminent

Foreign airlines not interested to fill the slack

August 24, 2010

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is having a hard time finding foreign airlines to fly international routes that are likely to be affected by the imminent strike at Philippine Airlines (PAL) as it prepares contingency plans for a possible disruption of air travel services in the coming months particularly to the United States.

DOTC Secretary Jose de Jesus admitted there will be a “real serious temporary disruption" because the other airlines that will be tapped to replace the routes that could be affected by a PAL strike could not change their schedules overnight.

Cathay Pacific Flights?

CAB Deputy Executive Director Porvenir Porciuncula said they have been talking to other carriers, particularly Cathay Pacific which served domestic destinations for PAL and if they can pick up the slack for PAL's domestic and international points.

“Some airlines say they can take up part of PAL’s operations, but most say their resources are already overstretched just servicing their own routes,” Porciuncula said.

“What we’re asking from them is very temporary but a lot of them are not so willing to commit,” Porciuncula said.

Secretary De Jesus confirmed that the government was ready to grant special permits not just to Cathay Pacific but to Middle Eastern, North American and Asian carriers that serve routes similar to many of PAL’s international flights.

Domestic Interest

Meanwhile, two small airlines are willing to stand in for PAL should a labor strike prevents it from serving some of its routes Porciuncula adds. Spirit of Manila Airlines and Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) had informed the Civil Aviation Authority that they were interested in taking over some of PAL’s domestic routes in case of a disruption in flight services.

The government had already identified Philippine Airlines’ domestic and international routes that were also being served by small local airlines, or where they had rights to operate. Spirit of Manila Airlines has signified its willingness and capability to immediately expand its operations, while SEAir is willing to provide service from October.

Spirit of Manila operates chartered services between Clark and Taiwan using two MD83 aircraft with a seating capacity of 156, while Seair is awaiting delivery of two Airbus 320 with 180 seats from Tiger Airways for major domestic operations.

PAL earlier said last week that it was ready to deploy administrative and other staff to stand in for any striking cabin crew. Its passengers may also be transferred to the carrier’s 134 partner airlines across its network.

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