PAL Cuts Provincial Flights

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Embattled Philippine Airlines (PAL) has scrapped a provincial flight and reduced several others after 25 of its pilots indiscriminately resigned last week.

The flag carrier temporarily scrapped its Cebu-Davao flight, and reduced flights going to and from Manila and Ozamiz, Dipolog, Puerto Princesa and Cebu.

In a statement sent out on Saturday, the flag carrier said the reason for the new flight schedule was the "lean season."

"PAL released today (August 7, 2010) a new flight schedule to further optimize operational efficiency as the travel sector enters the ‘lean season'," the company said.

"The 'lean season' schedule will take effect beginning August 9 up to November 30, 2010," the Lucio Tan-owned airline said.

"There will temporarily be no operation between Cebu and Davao. This route will be reinstated during the peak season," the airline said.

PAL said it had submitted to the the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) a "new schedule with reduced frequencies include those going to and from Manila and Ozamiz, Dipolog, Puerto Princesa and Cebu."

"Capacity rationalization is routinely done in anticipation of lower passenger volume, especially tourists, during the rainy months from August to November. It also coincides with the reduced number of PAL pilots who left for jobs abroad," PAL president and chief operating officer (COO) Jaime Bautista said.

Bautista added it was during the "low" season when airlines introduce promotional programs to entice passengers to travel.

"It’s also the time of year when PAL schedules major maintenance checks on the fleet. PAL launched several promos a few weeks back," he said.

The new flight schedule is expected to be published soon in major dailies. It is also available at the PAL website at Passengers may also call 855-8888 for inquiries.

PAL announced in a paid advertisement published in several newspapers on Friday that it had 38 flights cancelled from July 29 to August 3 following its dispute with pilots. It said that flights returned to normal on August 4.

Out of its 473 pilots, 25 left without notice for higher paying jobs with other airlines abroad. The flag carrier operates an average of 160 domestic and international flights per day.

Meanwhile, PAL has given its resigned pilots a 48-hour ultimatum to return to work by Monday, August 9. Otherwise, it pursue criminal cases against them for "breach of contract."

Aside from the dispute with the pilots, PAL is also dealing with threats of a work stoppage by its flight attendants.

PAL will hold a dialogue with the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), along with the labor department, on Monday.

FASAP is demanding an increase in wages, among others.

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