Flag carrier focuses on repatriation, cargo

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    SANTA MARIA

    Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Philippine Airlines (PAL) is working towards full recovery by focusing on repatriation, cargo transport and rebuilding commercial flights.

    PAL assured the flying public of its staunch commitment to continue serving the public as flag carrier as it works towards full recovery of the airline and the travel sector.

    “Our message to our country and the world: Buhay pa tayo. Andito pa tayo. At hindi tayo aalis. (PAL is alive, we’re still here, and we’re here to stay.) This great lady – Philippine Airlines – will stay aloft while she is in our care,” Gilbert Santa Maria, PAL president and chief operating officer, said in a statement after a dawn eucharistic celebration welcoming PAL’s 80th anniversary on March 15.

    PAL has been focusing on repatriation and cargo transport efforts as well as rebuilding its network of commercial flights on key international and domestic routes.

    PAL carried home 310,000 of the displaced 420,000 overseas Filipinos to their respective provinces from March 2020 up to the present. Within the same period, tens of thousands of foreign nationals flew back to their home countries via PAL.

    At present, the airline said it is airlifting shipments of anti-coronavirus vaccines to various areas in Mindanao, Luzon and Visayas.

    PAL has restored regular commercial flights to the United States, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and several Asian countries as well as most of its domestic trunk and inter-island routes.

    Meanwhile, PAL flew 3.6 million passengers in 2020, significantly lower compared to 16.3 million passengers in 2019, according to Civil Aeronautics Board data.

    PAL attributed the 78 percent decline on passenger volume last year to the flight suspension and community quarantine in place to control the spread of the new coronavirus.

    PAL said it currently operates less than 30 percent of its normal pre-pandemic number of weekly flights, held down by lower travel demand and travel restrictions around the world and throughout the Philippines.

    As part of the company’s overall recovery initiatives, PAL has implemented a company-wide manpower reduction program, affecting 30 percent of its workforce or about 2,300 employees until mid-March this year.

    Since March 2020, PAL has suspended capital expenditures, reduced management salaries, deferred lease payments and slashed non-essential expenses.