PAL Lays Off 300 Workers as COVID-19 Aggravates Business

Employees will receive appropriate compensation and benefits.

Philippine Airlines has been forced to make a tough business decision as it grapples with the effects on the travel industry of the coronavirus. On Friday, February 28, the nation’s flag carrier issued a statement saying it was implementing a voluntary “separation initiative” for about 300 ground-based administrative and management personnel. 

The move effectively lays off the employees in what the company says is a streamlining initiative designed to increase revenues and reduce costs “in the wake of losses sustained in 2019.” PAL added that its business losses has been “aggravated by the ongoing travel restrictions and flight suspensions to areas affected by COVID-19.”

According to the company, affected employees will receive “appropriate separation benefits, additional trip pass privileges, and assistance in the form of career counseling and outplacement support.”  

In addition to the layoffs, PAL says it is pursuing other revenue-generating initiatives, including optimizing its route network, new ancillary products, more aggressive cost-management efforts, and investment in digital technology.    

The airline has been racked by headline-making events in recent months, including the sudden passing of its parent company’s president, Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., the son of PAL chairman Lucio Tan, in November 2019; followed by the resignation of two prominent members of its board in December.

Despite the layoffs, the airline said that it will continue to take delivery of additional aircraft for regional flights and is gearing up to launch new sectors in the coming months, including nonstop Cebu-Los Angeles flights and new routes to Pagadian in Zamboanga Del Sur; Perth, Australia; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; and Manado, Indonesia.


PAL also reminded people that it had assisted in the repatriation of Filipinos from from Xiamen and Tokyo in fulfillment of its duties as the country’s flag carrier.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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