FLAG CARRIER Philippines Airlines (PAL) is cutting about 2,300 jobs, or approximately 30% of its workforce, as part of its recovery initiatives amid the ongoing pandemic crisis, its top official said.

“This has been an extremely difficult and painful decision,” PAL President Gilbert F. Santa Maria said in a statement on Tuesday.

PAL said the total includes both voluntary separations and involuntary retrenchment.

The affected workers have until mid-March as PAL employees.

“For our colleagues who are leaving, rest assured that we are committed to support you through this transition,” Mr. Santa Maria said. “We extend to you our deepest gratitude for your years of hard work and dedicated service, and we will always cherish the ties you have established with the PAL family.”

PAL said it implemented temporary furloughs and flexible working arrangements to hold off job cuts.

According to the company, the retrenchment program, which is part of its overall recovery initiatives, was communicated to employees “as early as October” last year.

PAL noted that it still operates less than 30% of its pre-pandemic number of weekly flights due to travel restrictions and low travel demand.

The company has suspended capital expenditures, reduced management salaries, deferred lease payments, and slashed non-essential expenses since March 2020 when travel restrictions started.

PAL said its reduced workforce should not affect its current operations, reiterating that it would “continue to gradually increase international and domestic flights as demand recovers.”

In February last year, PAL slashed 300 jobs as a way to recover from its 2019 losses, which worsened in the first two months of 2020 due to the public health crisis.

In the nine months through September 2020, the flag carrier’s listed operator, PAL Holdings, Inc., saw its net loss to parent equity holders hit P28.85 billion, or more than three times the P8.49 billion recorded in 2019.

Passenger revenues for the three quarters dropped 65.4% to P35.56 billion. Cargo revenues declined 12.2% to P6.05 billion. Ancillary revenues decreased 55.5% to P3.68 billion, while its other business segments generated P6.93 million, 76.9% lower than the previous year’s figure.

PAL Holdings shares closed 0.31% higher at P6.50 apiece on Tuesday. — Arjay L. Balinbin