Philippine Airlines has been forced to come out in defence of its safety standards following after unions alleged that the airline’s ground staff were being overworked.
The national carrier recently transitioned its ground service operations, as well as two other subsidiary units, to outsourced agents, for the loss of more than 2,500 jobs. Leaders of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) have now accused the carrier of using overworked and untrained staff in operational roles; claims PAL’s President & Chief Operating Officer, Jaime Bautista dismissed as “black propaganda”.
“We assure our passengers that all aircraft utilised in our flights are released only after thorough assessment and safety checks,” Bautista said. “Apart from strict security checks, PAL flights also undergo a final safety check by our highly-trained and experienced pilots. A PAL plane will not take off until pilots are fully satisfied with the aircraft’s airworthiness.”
Taking a swipe at union members, Bautista said that the longer shifts being put in by some airline volunteers were more than manageable. “Former PAL ground workers are so used to working less than their 7.5 hour daily shift for five days, such that they consider our volunteers’ eight-hour shifts, six days a week as ‘overwork’,” Bautista said. “We hope our passengers will carefully discern fact from the fiction being peddled by those out to destroy the flag carrier’s good name and reputation,” he added.
PAL has also accused PALEA members of harassing its volunteers at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, and called for more police protection.
The airline has been embroiled in a bitter row with PALEA over its decision to outsource the three units – a move PAL says was essential for its continued survival. PAL, along with all other airlines registered in the Philippines, is currently on the EU’s aviation blacklist.