Philippine Airlines is planning to ax 2,300 workers from its roster as it continues to struggle amidst the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gilbert Santa Maria, the airline’s president, described the move as “an extremely difficult and painful decision” in a statement released today. The employees, who will leave in March, represent 30% of the company’s 7,000-strong workforce. The layoff will include both voluntary separations and involuntary retrenchment.
Santa Maria assured those who are leaving that the country’s flag carrier is “committed” to support them “through this transition,” and admitted that the demand for travel is “still far from pre-pandemic levels.” At present, the airline operates just 30% of its pre-pandemic number of weekly flights.
The airline said that it had informed the affected workers as early as October 2020 about the retrenchment. It added that it made this decision after a comprehensive review. The Lucio Tan-owned airline also said that the retrenchment was being made only after furloughs and flexible work arrangements were implemented as a stop-gap measure to postpone the job cuts.
Cebu Pacific, another local airline, also laid off hundreds of workers in 2020, as a consequence of the travel restrictions imposed by various governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The International Air Transport Association, an association composed of the world’s leading airlines, predicts that the aviation industry will recover from the pandemic’s impact in 2024. The number of passengers traveling by plane is expected to increase by 62% this year but it will still be significantly lower than what was recorded in 2019.