DOLE not of much help in PAL-pilots' row, says Baldoz

August 3, 2010 11:03 am 

By Lily O Ramos

MANILA, Aug. 2 — Philippine Airlines president Jaime Baustista said on Monday the flag carrier might sue the 25 airline pilots who caused cancellations of 11 flights over the weekend.

Three days in a row, PAL management on Monday also canceled four domestic flights due to lack of pilots.

The canceled flights as of 8 a.m. are: Manila-Iloilo (PR 147), Iloilo-Manila (PR 148), Manila-Bacolod (PR135), and Bacolod-Manila (PR136).

"We have 150 flights a day. Just five canceled flights can affect up to 5,000 people," he pointed out.

In an early morning TV interview, Bautista warned the 13 pilots and 12 first officers to return to work within seven days or face administrative or even criminal charges.

"They resigned without complying with the 180-day notice. Flights are scheduled for 6 months and we need enough pilots to man the flights. The reason for the 180-day notice is to have the chance to get replacements and ensure that the flights leave on time," Bautista said in an ABS-CBN "Umagang Kay Ganda" interview.

Late Monday evening, Department of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said DOLE won't be of help to PAL regarding the resigned pilots because there is no expressed dispute between the management and the men with wings.

Baldoz, in a television interview over GMA-7 network, said that it would do good for PAL management and the pilots to meet on a negotiating table to thresh out any misunderstanding.

She added that PAL may opt to sue for breach of contract but the pilots who are already abroad will just pay off the millions of pesos the national carrier spent for their five-year training or else, their foreign employers who are able to give them twice or thrice their present salary will help them pay off their debts to make them stay.

"The best thing is for PAL to give higher pay and better benefits to the pilots (if) the Philippine flag carrier wants to keep them," said Baldoz.

Bautista admitted the national flag carrier is losing accredited pilots to airlines from Korea, India, Italy, Hong Kong and the Middle East because they are well-trained which means substantial savings for their employers.

While PAL pays an estimated P100,000 to P250,000 a month, foreign employers recruit Filipino pilots reportedly with a guaranteed monthly paycheck of least U$ 15,000 or no less than P690,000.(PNA) V3/LOR

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