FLAG CARRIER Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced on Friday that it has cut about 300 jobs as a way to recover from its 2019 losses, which worsened in the first two months of 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

PAL, operated by PAL Holdings, Inc., said in a statement on Friday that it is “pursuing business restructuring to increase revenues and reduce costs.”

It added that it is hoping that “the streamlining will strengthen the company in the wake of losses sustained in 2019, aggravated by the ongoing travel restrictions and flight suspensions to areas affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).”

PAL said it had implemented a “voluntary separation initiative for long-serving employees.”

“A retrenchment process was completed on Friday, resulting in the separation of about 300 ground-based administrative and management personnel,” the airline said.

It also said that it assured its employees that they would receive their separation benefits and privileges.

“Other initiatives include revenue generation from an optimized route network and new ancillary products, more aggressive cost-management efforts, and investment in digital technology,” PAL said, adding that it remains focused on managing the risks related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline will continue to take delivery of additional aircraft for its regional flights as it prepares to launch new Cebu-Los Angeles flights and routes to Perth, Pagadian, Kota Kinabalu and Manado, it said.

In the nine months ending September, PAL’s attributable net loss widened 116.2% to P8.5 billion from P3.92 billion, as expenses and financing charges increased.

PAL, along with other major local airlines, cancelled flights to and from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan recently amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than a thousand people and sickened tens of thousands more in the mainland.

Roberto Lim, executive director and vice-chairman of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, Inc., has said they expect to lose about P3 billion from ticket refunds in the next two months after the Philippine travel ban on China and its administrative regions.

On Wednesday, the government barred travelers from South Korea’s coronavirus-stricken North Gyeongsang province.

The government will also prevent Filipinos from traveling to South Korea, where more than 1,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus strain. — Arjay L. Balinbin