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Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Velasco pointed out that the new appointees are expected to make up for the lack of real aviation experience among the current crop of top CAAP executives. “This is seen by industry experts as the major stumbling block to the country’s ability to move from Category 2 to Category 1,” he added.
The DoTC Secretary is pushing the CAAP to get back the Category 1 status, thus CAAP executives are now focused on accomplishing “every actionable item” in the identified hurdles toward getting once again the Category 1 status,” he said.
Reacting to a statement that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) wants a CAAP that is “professionalized,” Velasco countered that “these newly designated executives are precisely aviation professionals in the highest order and therefore meet the requirements of ICAO.
Current CAAP Director General Alfonso Cusi, who reportedly objected to the appointments of the new CAAP officials, had extensive experience in shipping, but not in aviation. Earlier, a Congressman during the hearing on DoTC’s budget, asked about Cusi’s aviation experience, adding that what the country’s aviation authority needs are “real aviation experts”.
Those who were recently appointed to key CAAP positions by the CAAP Board are: Ramon Gutierrez, deputy director general for administration; Napoleon Garcia, deputy director general for operations; Wilfredo Borja, assistant director general III (Air Traffic Services); Andrew Basallote, assistant director II (Air Navigation Services); Edgardo Costes, assistant director general II (Aerodrome Development and Management Services); Wilson Mirabona, assistant director general I (Aerodrome Development and Management Services); and Andres Lauriall, assistant director general I (Civil Aviation Training Center).
“Gone were the days when non-aviation people were appointed to critical posts in aviation: they have just been replaced by air sector experts,” the DoTC official said.
‘In gunning after Cusi, the Palace might be cutting off the nose to spite the face.’
SO-CALLED presidential "desire letters" used to apply only to nominations to the boards of government owned and controlled corporations. Hence it is rather odd for Malacañang to tell the Department of Transport and Communication that it is President Aquino’s "desire" that seven line positions in the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, which are not vacant in the first place, be filled with his nominees.
We could dismiss the Palace action as just another example of its high-handed management style. What Noynoy wants, or probably more accurately what his buddies want, they get. And niceties, not to speak of legalities, be damned.
The Palace meddling is unwarranted. The CAAP charter provides that "the Director General shall be responsible for the exercise of all powers and the discharge of all duties of the authority and shall have control over all personnel and activities of the authority."
The background to this flap is that the Palace wants Cusi out. He, however, isn’t budging. Probably some bright guy in the Palace though that surrounding him with deputies not of his own confidence might just be the aggravation that would prompt him to throw in the towel.
There are two strikes going against Cusi. First is his alleged lack of qualifications for the job and the second is his being an appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo.
Critics of Cusi says he has no business handling aviation because his background is maritime (his previous posting was as administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority). They could be right, although some people involved in the aviation sector have been giving Cusi good marks since he came on board last March.
The more grievous sin of Cuisi, however, is his being identified with the last administration. But the apparent return of politics in the running CAAP (formerly the Air Transport Office) could mean the continued downgrade of Philippine aviation and what this means to the travel and tourism sector.
Under ATO, highly technical positions were given to people with political connections while the welfare of check pilots and air traffic controllers ended up in the bottom of official priorities. This was one of the reasons the US Federal Aviation Authority downgraded the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 status.
In gunning after Cusi, the Palace might be cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The seven had been placed on floating status and would have to wait for their new designations, Transport Undersecretary Dante Velasco said.
“As career officials, they can choose to stay or leave the agency,” Velasco said in a phone interview.
He said the Transport Department was also planning to appoint a new director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to replace Alfonso Cusi, “But we are still studying that from a legal standpoint.”
Cusi refused to comment on the new appointments, but said he had already written the Transport Department requesting it to follow the procedure for career positions that should have security of tenure.
The new officials of the Civil Aviation Authority who replaced the seven took their oath Wednesday last week, he said.
He confirmed the appointment of the following officials:
• Ramon Gutierrez as deputy director general for Administration
• Napoleon Garcia as deputy director general for Operations
• Wilfredo Borja as assistant director general II for Air Traffic Services
• Andrew Basallote as assistant director general II for Air Navigation Service
• Edgardo Costes as assistant director general II for Aerodrome Development and Management Service
• Wilson Mirabona as assistant director general I for Aerodrome Development and Management Service
• Andres Laurilla as assistant director general I for the Civil Aviation Training Center.
“We just got the right people. The new government needs the right people to get things done,” Velasco said, adding that with their oath-taking on Wednesday, the appointments were considered “final” and were approved by the majority of the Civil Aviation board.
Velasco said the seven aviation officials who were replaced were appointed by the Arroyo administration, but they lacked the skills to upgrade the aviation sector.
“We need to make up for lack of aviation experience and expertise of the people now leaving the CAAP and [for the Philippines] to get back the Category 1 status,” Velasco said.
He said officials of the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization had ordered the Philippines to professionalize the CAAP and appoint officials based on their technical expertise.
“We need to do that to get back the Category 1 status and lift the EU ban on our carriers,” Velasco said.
In 2007 the US Federal Aviation Administration placed the Philippines on a list of 21 countries on Category 2 from Category 1 “for failure to provide safety oversight of its air-carrier operators in accordance with the safety-oversight standards set by the International Civil Aviation Authority.”
The Philippines’ aviation facilities still failed in the second audit conducted bythe FAA last year, so those stayed under Category 2 in aviation safety standards.
“The [new officials] came from the private entities involved in aviation,” Velasco said.
“We are confident that with the new composition of the CAAP, we can pass the FAA audit.”
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The four trainer planes, part of 18 on order, will be formally accepted by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena in formal ceremonies to be held at the PAF training school in Pampanga this morning. Witnessing the event will be Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.
PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol said this initial delivery is part of the 18 basic trainer aircraft which the Air Force is acquiring from Augusta of Italy with a total cost of P621,671,409.06.
The package includes the airplanes, spare parts, training and integrated logistical support.
Okol disclosed that the Pilot Training System of the Philippine Air Force currently uses both the T-41 and the SF-260 aircraft for primary and basic training respectively.
“The hand-over of T-41 aircraft from the Republic of South Korea in 2009 provided more primary trainer aircraft for the Philippine Air Force Flying School,” Okol said.
“These (SF-260) trainers will significantly increase the number of available basic trainer aircraft of the PAF for flight training,” Okol said.
According to the PAF spokesperson, the PAF is lacking in training aircraft, with at least 150 to 170 Air Force officers forced to wait in line for actual training to fly an aircraft. The arrival of the four SF-260 Marchetti planes will boost the training capability of the Air Force and ease the backlog of students required to undergo flying exercises.
Okol however clarified that even if the officers wait in line to get flying time, their time was not wasted as they are required to undergo training in other career fields related to intelligence, computers, logistics and maintenance.
The propeller-driven AF-260 is the world’s most successful screener and primary trainer.
Fully acrobatic by design, the SF-260 offers flight characteristics and performance levels that allow effective pilot candidates screening early in the program and minimizes the costs incurred when students wash out on jets or complex turboprops.
The SF-260, with Allison 250-B17D Turboprop engine, has a span of 8.35 meters, length of 7.40 meters, rate climb of 2,200 feet per minute and maximum level speed of 228 KTAS (knots true air speed). All SF-260 variants are available with either piston or turbine engines.
Some 900 SF-260 have been sold to 27 different military customers, civil professional flying schools and private operators worldwide. The Italian Air Force bought 30 brand new units.
The expected completion of delivery for the remaining 14 aircraft will be in the first quarter of next year.
In a statement on Wednesday, PAL president and CEO Jaime Bautista said they will abide by the recent decision of the labor department to enhance the separation benefits of the 2,600 employees who will be laid off.
Last week, labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz recognized PAL management's prerogative to outsource 3 non-core operations to be more cost-competitive in an industry where the players have increased and fares have raced to the bottom.
Bautista said the planned spin-off of the in-flight catering, airport services, and call center reservations was initially estimated to cost about P2 billion, based on the earlier decision by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that was contested by the union.
The modifications in the financial and non-cash benefits will cost an additional over P400 million, according to the PAL statement.
"This is a bitter pill we have to swallow," Bautista said. The airline has suffered financial losses due to the residual impact of the high oil prices and the limits in additional flights as a result of the regulatory decisions of the US and the European Union aviation bodies.
To finance the higher separation packages, Bautista said they are considering availing of additional loans from government banks, particularly the Development Bank of the Philippines or Land Bank of the Philippines. "If this is not possible, we will seek financing from other PAL creditors," he added.
"By not contesting the DOLE Secretary's decision, especially the grant of additional benefits, PAL hopes to finally implement a long delayed corporate restructuring," he stressed. "They will all receive their respective separation pay and benefits that are much more than what the Labor Code provides."
He then urged PALEA leaders to also respect the DOLE decision.
But PALEA president Gerry Rivera said they would exhaust all legal means to prevent the layoff.
PAL's position comes a day after the Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA), the ground crew union at PAL, staged a protest action at the historic Mendiola Plaza historic Don Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) near Malacañang despite PAL's threat of charging them with abandonment of work.
The labor department has averted a strike that could have paralyzed the operations of the local carrier. The Aquino government, which has initially intervened when the labor issues has worsened mid-year, had said they will abide by the decision of the labor department.
No jobs lost
Bautista added that the 2,600 PAL employees who will be laid off can seek employment again at the companies that will absorb the outsourced services.
"Sec. Baldoz, no less, assured PALEA there will be no jobs lost in the spin off. Aside from receiving their benefits, all affected workers have the option of applying for positions in the third party service providers if they so choose," he said.
e-Ventus, the call center arm of telecommunications giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), will absorb the reservations and phone customer service operations, while Sky Kitchen and Sky Logistics, both owned by Cebu-based businessman Manny Osmena, will soon provide the outsourced catering and airport services, respectively.
"At the end of the day, PAL wants to be remembered not for the 2,600 jobs it lost, but the more than 4,000 it saved," Bautista ended.
Syndicates make use of mobile phones in communicating with their cohorts and victims.
In a press release, Immigration Officer-In-Charge Ronaldo Ledesma said the necessary equipments are now in place at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
There are currently 4 jammers and a server at the immigration zone there, costing around P400,000.
The equipments were bought during the previous administration. The BI had to stop using them due to protests from airline companies and other airport stakeholders.
A permit is needed from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for their re-activation. BI property section chief John Tugade said he has already applied for a permit with the NTC.
Ledesma said similar jammers will be installed in other international airports in the country once the bureau gets the necessary budget.
“These cellphone jammers will definitely go a long way in bolstering our fight against human traffickers,” Ledesma said.
Reactivating the jammers is one of several measures that the BI and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) have adopted in its fight against human trafficking.
Ledesma also announced 3 weeks ago the adoption of the so-called “S-line” queuing system for all arriving and departing passengers at the NAIA and other airports to prevent collusion among human traffickers and rogue immigration personnel.
The “S-line” aims to prevent international passengers from choosing which immigration counter to line up to process their travel documents.
The move was prompted by a Court of Appeals ruling favoring international carriers, through the Board of Airline Representatives, that they are not bound to shoulder the overtime pay of Customs agents.
The ruling in effect passes on to passengers the responsibility of assuming this financial obligation.
Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said an additional cost of $1 to $2 may be imposed to finance the allowances and overtime pay of Customs agents.
“The additional $1 to $2 would either be incorporated in the terminal fee or would be paid as a separate account in the airport,” he said.
He said that Customs personnel have not received such monetary benefits since July last year.
This non-payment of overtime pay had Customs agents refusing to render work beyond the prescribed eight-hour period.
The CA ruling also obliged the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the passengers at the airport such as the OFWs, for instance, would have to shoulder the cost.
However, representatives of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the Bureau of Customs, Immigration and Quarantine, among others, have yet to approved the agreement.
For the meantime, Alvarez said the agency has secured airlines' commitment to pay at least five months’ worth of overtime pay and allowances in exchange for the services of Customs employees until the yearend.
The proposed MoU came after the Customs agents threatened to refuse working beyond the working hours last week.
The BoC is looking at implementing the measure amid the government's limited room to take on additional cost. The Aquino administration is aiming to contain its budget deficit within the P325-billion ceiling.
Passengers departing for other countries are each charged a terminal fee of P750 as well as travel tax of P1,650.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
"The termination is in accordance with the finding that management’s prerogative to close and outsource services in the three departments was done in good faith and was in accordance both with the CBA and the Labor Code," said Baldoz.
"The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) affirmed the management prerogative of PAL to organize, plan, direct and control operations, as well as the prerogative to reorganize its corporate structure for the viability of its operations," she said. She said that based on the CBA and Article 283 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, PAL’s closure of three departments, namely in-flight catering, airport services (cargo handling), and call center reservations operations, was reasonable and lawful as it was a measure to address PAL’s accumulated net losses and deficits.
Among the causes of the losses cited by PAL were the surge in fuel prices in 2008, the ban on PAL from the air space of 27 European Union member states and IATA’s suspension of PAL remittance facilities.
PAL said the lay-off is needed for it to survive in a highly competitive airline industry.
Baldoz said these conditions ultimately addresses the need to meet one of the two criteria in making a "valid termination" under the CBA, which is whether the exercise of the management prerogative was done in a just, reasonable, humane, and lawful manner.
The DOLE head said PAL was also able to meet the other criteria, which was the observance of the 45-day consultation period, required in the CBA, before implementing the reorganization.
"PAL more than complied with the 45-day consultation requirement under the CBA, considering the consultations and preventive mediation conferences between the PAL and the PALEA (PAL Employees Association) before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board as far back as September 2009," said Baldoz.
Aside from noting that the layoff was done above board, Baldoz also emphasized the "upgraded" benefits allocated for the affected employees.
The benefits include a separation pay equivalent to 1.25 percent per year of service; additional gratuity of P50,000 per affected employee; vacation leave balance that is 100 percent commutable to cash regardless of years of service; sick leave balance that is 100 percent commutable to cash regardless of years of service; extension of one year of the medical and hospitalization package; and trip pass benefits depending on the number of years of service.
At 10:00 a.m., dozens of members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (Palea), the ground crew union at PAL, held a symbolic protest at the main office of the Department of Labor and Employement (DoLE) in Intramuros, Manila.The PAL employees brought a mock coffin with the label “RIP PAL workers” and also an effigy of Labor Secretary Baldoz in the image of the fictional “Kamatayan.”
The protesters carried posters with messages such as “Job Security ng PAL Workers, Inilibing ni Baldoz,” “Baldoz Halloween Order and Lagman Midnight Decision, Parehong Anti-Labor,” “Baldoz, Mumultuhin ka ng Halloween Order Laban sa PAL Workers,” and “Kung Di Mo Kaya si Lucio Tan, Baldoz Resign.”Gerry Rivera, Palea president and also vice chairman of the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), said that “The DoLE’s version of Oplan Kaluluwa is releasing an order on the eve of the Halloween holidays that revives the half dead proposal to permit contractualization at PAL. Contractualization means not just the death of job security at PAL but also killing the oldest union in the country.” “Nobody will allow themselves to be murdered without putting up a fight. This is a fight for decent jobs and protection for our families,” Rivera added.
Palea said the protests will continue tomorrow with a march from the DoLE main office to Mendiola by several hundred PAL employees together with supporters from PM and other labor groups.Rivera lambasted PAL’s argument that it will close down if the layoff and outsourcing move is not allowed.
“This is simply blackmail and black propaganda meant to intimidate workers into accepting the unacceptable. Revenue-generating departments such as airport services and catering will be outsourced to service providers which are partly-owned by Lucio Tan. PAL may be losing but the second wealthiest Filipino keeps on getting richer,” he argued.He called on PAL workers to reject the termination notices that will come in the wake of the DoLE decision affirming the mass layoff plan.
“Palea calls on its members not to accept any termination paper and not to sign any employment contract with service providers. All for one and one for all in the fight for job security and union security,” he said.Rivera recalled that when the mass retrenchment was initially implemented last April, employees were asked to sign termination papers in one room and then to transfer to another room to sign employment contracts with service providers.
“Let us not be tricked into swallowing the bitter pill of retrenchment now that it has been artificially sweetened with a slightly higher separation pay,” he insisted.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Airline officials said 8 flights were cancelled while 4 others had to be delayed Sunday. Nine flights were cancelled while 4 others were cancelled on Saturday.
The company said it did not expect a surge in the number of passengers in October.
Airphil Express has 20 pilots but they have all exceeded their quota in flying hours, company spokesperson Maria Jaha said.
Airphil Express addressed the crisis by borrowing the pilots of sister company Philippine Airlines.
Some passengers eventually got on board an Airphil Express aircraft and left for the provinces on Sunday after hours of waiting.Others, meanwhile, were forced to rebook their flights.
In a radio interview, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Jose Angel Honrado warned NAIA personnel that they face stiff sanctions if caught asking for gifts or cash from arriving passengers, saying this is unethical.
“They should not sing or say anything to the passengers hinting about receiving holiday gifts,” Honrado said in a radio interview.
However, he said airport officials would not censure Immigration and Customs personnel if they voluntarily receive gifts from “generous” passengers.
“Sometimes you cannot avoid it if a generous passenger gives you a gift. But definitely there will be no leeway for those who ask for gifts,” he said.
As the airport gets busier with the expected increase in the number of arriving and departing passengers at this time of the year, Honrado renewed his order to concerned personnel to tighten security measures with special focus on human trafficking syndicates that continue to victimize Filipino jobseekers.
He said he has specifically ordered tighter measures at NAIA Terminal 1, where many foreign airlines operate.
He said he also ordered closer coordination with the other concerned government agencies to prevent trafficking syndicates and other lawbreakers from setting foot on Philippine soil.
MYLENE EBREO, a crew chief for avionics with Lufthansa Technik Philippines, joined the male-dominated and indeed macho world of airline mechanics more than 10 years ago. The company was then still exclusively providing ground maintenance, repair and overhaul services to Philippine Airlines, and Mylene was one of the few women to be admitted to the mechanics’ ranks.
“The men would look askance at us as we walked by,” Mylene recalls, “and some of the older male supervisors refused to deal with us directly.” But through sheer hard work and reliability “My” was able to gain the trust of her supervisors and today finds herself supervising crews of as many as 80 mechanics, most of them men, per shift.
The skepticism and resistance of their male co-employees are part and parcel of the job, says My and two other women contemporaries at LTP: Shirleen “Pinky” Estrada and Ditas “Ditz” Velasco-Salayon. “We should be strong,” declares My.
Pinky is a foreman (foreperson?) dealing with the structural integrity of the aircraft they service, while Ditz is a foreman with primary responsibility for coordinating interiors.
What special qualities do women bring to their jobs with LTP? Mylene believes it is women’s natural eye for detail. “Matiyaga ang mga babae (Women are more persevering),” she notes, adding that working on aircraft demands painstaking attention to the smallest details, from using the right airplane parts to finding the tiniest cracks in airplane bodies.
* * *
ASIDE FROM being “mabusisi (painstaking),” the women mechanics are also important for what LTP vice president for marketing Dominik Wiener-Silva calls “customer interface.”
“Beauty is an asset, especially with Europeans,” says My with a smile. Since they work with client representatives from different parts of the world, it’s important for the mechanics to be able to communicate well and convey all the issues involved in the MRO—maintenance, repair and overhaul—of aircraft. Certainly a winning personality and ability to win over clients is an asset.
“We also do our job faster,” adds Pinky, who says that keeping “turnaround time” to a minimum is a prime demand of clients who of course want to keep their aircraft in the air as long and as often as possible.
Ditz tells the story of one assignment that brought her to Hong Kong to consult with an
Their work, the women concede, has brought them to foreign assignments a number of times, including training stints at Lufthansa Technik’s global headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. But Ditz, for one, says she’s no longer as eager for foreign assignments, especially long-term ones. “Our children are growing up, and six months is too long to be away from home.” Both My and Ditz are married with children while Pinky is single. “By choice,” Ditz interjects.
* * *
LUFTHANSA Technik Philippines employs 366 women out of a total of 2,700 employees, about 13 percent. Not an impressive number really (the United Nations recommendation for achieving a gender “critical mass” is 30 percent), but as Wiener-Silva points out, “it’s the largest percentage in the world,” and in the industry.
The women of LTP assume the same responsibilities as the men, and go through the same four-step training until they reach the status of Mechanic A. While Tess Fajardo, LTP vice president for human resources, doesn’t cite salary figures, she says that when ranged against the wages of the only comparable occupation of an auto mechanic, the airline mechanics at LTP are certainly compensated well.
A definite plus are the pretty short and regular work hours. “If we start work at seven in the morning,” says Mylene, “and we work fairly fast, the entire team can go home around three in the afternoon.” Mylene, as team leader, is crucial in this aspect, as it is her responsibility to plan the day’s work scope and assign the people to their tasks.
Ditz, for her part, is an active member of the Employee Council, with gender relations in the workplace as a special concern. While the still-lopsided gender balance provides fertile ground for sexual harassment, the problem seems to have been tamed at LTP. “We’ve had about one or two cases of sexual harassment in the last 10 years,” says Ditz. My, who is the most senior of the three women, concedes that the problem was much worse at the start, but now “the men have gotten used to us.”
* * *
A VISIT to LTP’s five-bay hangar is necessary to fully grasp just how impressive is the work done by this German-Filipino partnership. At the time we visited, crews were working on two aircraft of Virgin Atlantic Airways. The planes were stripped to bare metal in parts and surrounded by a metal exoskeleton of scaffolding. Around them swarmed mechanics in dark blue overalls, looking like Lilliputian villagers swarming over the two beached giants.
Air passengers rarely give a thought to the work done while the airplane is grounded. But the quality of the MRO work, as much as the skills of the pilots and cabin crew, will determine the quality of the flying experience, especially whether passengers and crew survive. They may be unseen, but the men and women of LTP are key to ensuring we arrive alive.
“We find the outsourcing of services and closure of the Inflight Catering, Airport Services, and Call Center Reservation Operations in Philippine Airlines to be a just, reasonable, humane, and lawful exercise of its management prerogative to reorganize the corporate structure for purposes of viability of its operations, subject to entitlement,” according to the order dated 29 October 2010, a copy of its dispositive portion was obtained by INQUIRER.net.
In contrast to Lagman’s 15 June 2010 order, Baldoz’s ruling provides for an additional gratuity of P50,000 per employee and 125 percent separation pay instead of 100 percent. Other entitlements include allowing vacation leave and sick leave balances to be convertible to cash, their absorption to the respective service providers for one year, among others.
Sought for a reaction, PAL said it could not issue one as it has not yet received a copy of the decision.
In a news release, PAL Employees’ Association (Palea) the slammed Baldoz’s decision.
Palea president and concurrent vice chairman of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers’ Party) Gerry Rivera said: “The Department of Labor and Employment’s go signal for the retrenchment of half of the workforce means the death of job security at Philippine Airlines.”Rivera said the union intends to appeal the decision at the Court of Appeals.
At the same time, he said, members of Palea and PM will hold a mass action at the DoLE main office in Intramuros to denounce Baldoz’s order. The protesters plan to bring a mock coffin with the message “RIP PAL Workers” and an effigy of Baldoz as the mythical “Kamatayan.”Rivera explained that Baldoz’s decision entirely disregarded the union’s arguments and merely reiterated PAL’s position that it must outsource work to service providers in order to be financially viable.
“The order is not a win-win solution that balances the interest of workers for job security and management’s for financial viability. Instead it is simply management’s slightly improved offer disguised as DoLE’s decision,” he said.Rivera said that Baldoz’s order means allowing the contractualization at PAL via a retrench-rehire scheme. He said PAL will retrench 3,000 regular unionized workers who will be rehired as contractuals by service providers that are partly owned by Lucio Tan.
“The loss of 3,000 regular jobs cannot be compensated by the creation of 3,000 new contractual positions. Baldoz’s decision released on the eve of All Souls’ Day is symbolic for it will conjure up 3,000 zombie positions which will have cheaper wages, fewer benefits, no security of tenure, and no protection by a union,” he said.Palea also declared that the mass action tomorrow is just the start of a series of protests by PAL employees and their supporters from the labor movement.
An assumption of jurisdiction order from DoLE had prevented Palea from holding mass actions, including a strike since April this year. A similar assumption order was imposed on the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines while a decision remains pending at the office of Secretary Baldoz regarding the separate dispute about retirement age and other issues.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President and CEO Victor Jose Luciano welcomed the 170 passengers of the Boeing 737-800 who departed at about 1 a.m. at the DMIA Terminal signaling the full operations of Jin Air at the 2,367-hectare Clark Civil Aviation Complex in the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
Luciano and CIAC Vice President for Administration and Finance Lauro Ortile also welcomed Jin Air’s President and CEO Kim Jae Gun who was among the passengers of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft. A simple welcome ceremony was held at the DMIA Terminal initiated by the personnel of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC).
Jin Air is the latest budget carrier operating at DMIA after Air Asia of Malaysia and Tiger Airways of Singapore.
Jin Air has five Boeing 737-800 aircraft in its fleet for their operations in the South East Asian region, including Japan.
Jin Air adds to the host of foreign and local carriers operating international and domestic flights at the DMIA that include Asiana Airlines that flies daily to Incheon; Tiger Airways that flies daily to Singapore; and, Air Asia that flies daily to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
Also operating flights at the DMIA is local carrier Cebu Pacific Air flies to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, and Bangkok as well as domestically to Cebu, the Spirit of Manila Airlines that flies to Taipei, and South East Asian Airlines (Seair) that flies via to Caticlan. (AMR)
“We welcome Jin Air’s regular flights at DMIA that would not only bring in more Korean tourists to Clark but also give the people of Northern Luzon the opportunity to visit the beautiful country Korea,” he added.
Jin Air is a full subsidiary of Korean Air.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Is this called "Tweaking the nose of a sleeping giant???"
HANOI – The Philippine government will proceed with plans to improve military facilities in the Kalayaan group of islands in the disputed Spratlys, according to President Benigno S. Aquino III.
In an after-dinner talk with reporters at the Grand Plaza Hotel here last Wednesday night, Aquino said his government wants to improve the dilapidated airstrip on the Kalayaan Islands soon.
Aquino said the administration would formally inform other claimants to the Spratly Islands of the plan when all details have been finalized.
Navy Spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo had earlier said that the repair and maintenance of the outpost and airport runway are necessary for the delivery of supplies to troops stationed on the group of islands being contested by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and China.
The Spratlys is a group of more than 750 reefs, islets, atolls, cays, and islands in the South China Sea believed to contain significant oil and gas reserves.
The Philippines is proceeding with the repair, despite opposition from emerging superpower China.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao had informed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the Philippine government’s plans to repair facilities in the Spratlys are not a welcome pronouncement, especially in light of the Aug. 23 Manila hostage incident in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.
Attending his first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here, Aquino hhad earlier said that he would call for a “more formalized plan” in dealing with the disputed Spratlys Islands during the Oct. 28-30 meetings.
The Philippine leader said he will reiterate the call for adherence to the Code of Conduct over the South China Sea during one of his speeches for the ASEAN Summit.
“(We will) reiterate the call for adherence to the code of conduct and an even more formalized plan towards exploiting it (Spratly Islands) perhaps on a cooperative basis. It (the call) will be part of one of my speeches,” he said.
This position was shared by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet during a bilateral meeting with Aquino last Tuesday afternoon at the Presidential Palace.
The two leaders also have a similar stand with regard to their neighbor, the junta-ruled Myanmar(the former Burma).
Before the start of the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit at the National Convention Center here, Aquino and Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva met and agreed for more cooperation between their governments in dealing with common problems such as the effects of their strengthening currencies against the United States’ dollar.
Meanwhile, former Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Deputy Secretary- General Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta has been appointed as the new ambassador to the ASEAN, replacing former Sen. Orlando Mercado.
The President said Villacorta's name has been submitted to the Commission on Appointments.
Villacorta, a professor emeritus of De La Salle University, was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
He was also chairperson of the National Institute for Policy Studies (NIPS).
Asked on his expectation for the Oct. 28-30 17th ASEAN Summit and its related summits, Aquino said: “As we can gather from the theme 'From Vision to Action,’ one really wants to see that there are many problems that affect the entire region from global warming to the issue of piracy, to so many other issues that really affect not only one state. . . even the growth of our economy is so dependent on acting in unison or in concert with those who are closest neighbors.”
“So we expect that after this ASEAN summit, there will be more concrete steps towards harmonizing and really unifying the entire ASEAN region to act as one for the continuum of the problems that we all face,” he said.
Google’s deal to acquire ITA Software for $700 million creates the potential for the search engine giant to shake up airline travel distribution, although Google has not detailed its plans. That leaves airlines, online travel agencies and other players to wonder whether this should be viewed as an opportunity, a source of angst or both.
“Speculation and even paranoia abound as travel companies grapple with the implications of the convergence,” says PhoCusWright, which studies how consumers buy travel. Part of the reason for that concern, PhoCusWright Research Director Carroll Rheem says, is just that Google is so big and influential.
ITA is key in the air travel distribution world, having created some groundbreaking flight, fare and seat-availability search capabilities and with a client list that includes many of the major U.S. carriers, Virgin Atlantic, online travel agencies Hotwire and Orbitz, “meta-search” aggregator Kayak, Trip Advisor and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Some industry observers question whether an ITA client such as Kayak will want to continue using a product owned by a competitor. But Google Chairman/CEO Eric Schmidt emphasizes that Google plans to “honor all existing agreements [with ITA] and add many new partners.”
Schmidt also says Google plans to use ITA only to create flight search capabilities, providing results that would direct users to airline websites or online travel agencies (OTAs) to make the booking. Google does not plan to have its own booking engine.
“We think we can drive even more business to airlines and online travel agencies, and, as a result, we think this will also benefit Google’s overall search capability,” boosting its users and usage, he says.
Schmidt also adds some uncertainty on the matter, however, by vowing that the flight search capability Google offers will be different than anything currently seen, including Kayak’s aggregate results from multiple airline and OTA sites. “Part of the goal of the merger is in fact to do something quite different than what is available today,” Schmidt says.
What that would be is not clear. Google is not yet providing much insight into where it believes it is heading, other than one example it provided in which a user could query, “Where can I get within seven hours and with this price?”
Google’s Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, describes that as one of the “innovative” possibilities, but it actually is not new. Late last year Lufthansa debuted a new Amadeus flight shopping tool, Affinity Shopper, that lets potential customers search for flights with criteria such as price, type of trip and region or country. Kayak offers a similar feature that also includes criteria such as average temperature and languages spoken.
Google, however, could catch consumers very early in the travel-buying process—or even before they are thinking of buying, if, for example, a search query or g-mail message indicates interest in a particular country or destination. Its travel search tool is likely to be integrated into its search engine, not confined to a separate tab or page, Rheem says.
While Google is not providing much detail on its direction, the acquisition—which will be reviewed by antitrust regulators before it can be completed—has the travel distribution community buzzing about the potential impact.
One risk for airlines is that their websites will be hit with more searches that do not result in bookings, as Googlebot crawls their sites in response to queries. With Google’s global reach, that could be a lot, notes Henry Harteveldt, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research. That global reach, however, also presents another opportunity for airlines to grab more customers, adds Harteveldt.
Airlines are also concerned that Google might aim to make money off the searches, beyond the standard industry model of the seller paying “per click” or “per acquisition” for consumers who come to their site via a Google search.
For now, Schmidt says only that the “economic structure” is something “we’ll sort out later.” That vagueness worries sellers, Rheem says, because the more relevant Google search becomes and the more reliant consumers become on it, the more power Google will have over advertisers, since it also sells ads based on search keywords.
Rheem says Google’s entry into the travel market is not likely to alter the competition between airlines and OTAs for bookings because Google is known for search result neutrality. But Harteveldt says that within minutes of the Google-ITA announcement, he heard from travel industry marketing and distribution professionals concerned about how Google would present airlines and OTAs when a user makes a flight query.
On its general search page, Google sells keyword-triggered ads that separately list sponsored links in the search results. The big OTAs have more money to spend on marketing than individual airlines, so they could have an advantage, Harteveldt says.
But there are also are potential opportunities for airlines, he adds. That is because Google’s new flight search tools—which presumably will include flight dates and other criteria—could give them better insight into the intent of consumers and help them more effectively target their keyword-related marketing dollars.
For example, he says, an airfare search for travel within the next three days may indicate either a business trip or last-minute vacation, and a travel seller can choose to bid more for related keywords if those types of trips suit its strategy.
Five years after they burst onto the scene, domestic budget carriers are turning up the heat on larger airlines by launching international flights.Jeju Air, Korea's biggest budget airline, said on Wednesday it plans to start flying between Incheon and Hong Kong, taking on Korean Air currently operating 23 flights and Asiana Airlines 14 on the route. While Jeju Air will offer only three flights per week, it aims to lure passengers with fares at least 30 percent lower than those of its larger rivals. Jin Air on Tuesday launched service from Incheon to Clark in the Philippines, pushing into a route previously served solely by Asiana. A Jin Air spokesperson said that the flights would run at night and early morning to differentiate from Asiana, which flies during the day. The new service is targeted at tourists, especially those on golf trips. Jeju Air also plansto launch flights to Manila on Nov. 24 and Macau on Nov. 29. In addition, it will find itself going head-to-head with another budget carrier, Air Busan, when they both debut flights between Busan and the Philippine resort city of Cebu on Nov. 25 and Dec. 23, respectively. Foreign budget carriers are fueling the competition. Business Air Thailand has already launched Incheon-Bangkok service, while Malaysia's AirAsia, the region's largest low-cost carrier, will start operations connecting Incheon with Kuala Lumpur next month. By the end of the year, larger airlines and budget carriers are expected to be competing on 10 international routes. In the first nine months of the year, domestic budget carriers transported a combined 632,000 passengers on international routes, accounting for 3.18 percent of the total 19.895 million international passengers. The figure has quadrupled from 0.75 percent last year.
In a statement, APX said it started to fly the Manila-Singapore route on Tuesday, October 27.
APX operates at the Terminal 2 at the Changi airport in Singapore to give its passengers a better shopping experience.
Other budget airlines, including local carrier Cebu Pacific, operate at Changi's Terminal 3, which was designed for the fast turnovers and other operational needs of a typhical no-frills flights.
"Duty free shopping is expansive at Terminal 2 and it is ingrained in Filipino culture to bring home gifts from travels abroad," said Maria Java, APX vice president for marketing and media.
She continued, "Travelers out of Singapore to the Philippines have been very receptive of our start of operations. Even before our maiden flight on October 27, our forward sales for December are now close to full for both Singapore-Cebu and Singapore-Manila."
APX's Manila-Singapore flights leave at 4 p.m. from Monday to Sunday. The airline said it will promptly add daily Cebu-Singapore flights on December 1.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, led by Tan, is the sister company of APX.
The rapid rise of low cost carriers (LCC) is changing the way people travel and distribution needs to change accordingly, said Airphil Express chief executive Brian Thomas Hogan.
At Aviation Outlook Asia Mr Hogan told e-Travel Blackboard that distribution systems need to adapt in line with airline evolutions.
“Airlines are trying to cooperate and reservation systems need to do the same,” Mr Hogan said, on a panel discussing travel distribution.
Also on the panel with Mr Hogan was Bahrain Air commercial director Richard Nuttall, who said the advent of the internet has been “disruptive”, soon to force expensive GDS models to compete with “new solutions in distribution”.
Due to the different nature of the Philippines market, Mr Hogan said his carrier had to use alternative distribution channels to cater to the needs of the nation’s travellers.
“In some Philippines provinces you may be able to book tickets but making the payments can be difficult, so we allow third party credit card transactions,” he said.
Mr Hogan detailed Airphil Express’ use of sales agents and even pawn shops to expand payment and distribution channels, given a lack of internet penetration in the market.
“There’s no such thing as a traditional low cost carrier in the Philippines,” he said, but added that the market was ripe for low cost travel.
According to Mr Hogan, we are in the age of a “low cost carrier revolution”.
“What low cost carriers have done is amazing,” he said and told e-Travel Blackboard the story of Airphil Express’ arrival into Tawi Tawi.
“We were greeted by bankers in tears because we not only opened up the market but provided a safe means to send cash.”
“We’re bringing air travel to the masses.”
From zero per cent of the market share of Philippines air travel in 2004, Airphil Express, with LCC rival Cebu Pacific, now have almost 65 per cent market share, he said.
Their success, Mr Hogan told e-Travel Blackboard, is because Airphil Express concentrates on value and service and makes considerable efforts to “really be in the market and localise accordingly”.
On Google’s potential entry into distribution, Mr Hogan said simply, “Bring it on”.
“At the end of the day the goal of the company is to sell flights and if someone can help me get distribution then I don’t care.”
Travel agents are not ignored in Mr Hogan’s airline strategy, representing a necessary distribution and information channel.
“Travel agents are our partners,” he said.“In the end, we all have the same goal: to get people travelling.”
Jurassic presidential aircraft
The Philippine President flew to Vietnam on a $3-million refurbished Marcos era F28 short range jet which the Philippine Air Force bought more than 35 years ago. The aircraft was eventually used extensively by P-Noy’s mother, Mrs. Aquino. FVR contemplated on the idea of purchasing a presidential aircraft when Boeing came out with a reasonable offer for an executive jet with very convenient terms. But the idea was quickly shelved when it later became clear that he was not going to stay longer than six years as president. The Philippines may not exactly be a rich country but there are many practical people who believe that it would be wise for the chief executive of this country to have a new aircraft considering we have 7,100 islands. Besides, the Fokker F28 has already reached its shelf life and is “way past its bedtime.” The aircraft has too many safety issues plus the fact that it is expensive to maintain with limited landing and takeoff capability for short runways. It’s the classic “penny wise, pound foolish.”
SPY BITS By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) Updated October 28, 2010 12:00
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Cebu Air Inc., the Philippines’ second-biggest carrier, climbed in its trading debut in Manila after the airline completed the nation’s biggest initial public offering in five years.
The stock rose 6.4 percent to 133 pesos at the 12 p.m. close on the Philippine Stock Exchange from its IPO price of 125 pesos. The carrier and parent JG Summit Holdings Inc. raised 23.33 billion pesos ($540 million) in the share sale. The airline’s market value is about 81.6 billion pesos.
The carrier will use the proceeds to acquire planes as it takes delivery of 24 aircraft by 2014 to increase flights, President Lance Gokongwei said today in Manila. Cebu Air estimates revenue from international routes will make up half of sales after five years, outpacing growth in domestic demand.
“Cebu Air offers a good play on Philippine tourism and a proxy on consumer spending,” said Olan Caperina, who helps manage about 500 billion pesos at Manila-based Bank of the Philippine Islands. “At its IPO price, the stock is valued at 13 times estimated earnings, which is cheaper than the overall market.”
JG Summit fell 3 percent to 24.25 pesos. The company gets about half its revenue from food, agriculture and commodities, and 24 percent from air transportation.
Cebu Air, which plans to fly 10 million passengers this year, sold 30.66 million shares in the IPO. Manila-based JG Summit sold 155.98 million existing shares. As much as 70 percent of the offering was allotted to overseas investors.
The airline had net income of $68.4 million in the first half of this year, according to its IPO prospectus. The document also said Cebu Air carried more passengers on domestic flights in the period than its bigger rival Philippine Airlines Inc., which is involved in a labor dispute with flight attendants and has a shortage of pilots.
The share sale surpassed AirAsia Bhd.’s $227 million IPO in 2004 and Ryanair Holdings Plc.’s $160 million initial share sale in 1997, Cebu Air said in a statement today. Ryanair’s market value has climbed to 6.2 billion euros ($8.7 billion) at yesterday’s closing price, while AirAsia was worth 7.1 billion ringgit ($2.3 billion) at the 12:30 p.m. break in Kuala Lumpur.
The Manila-based carrier aims to fly 20 million passengers by 2014, Gokongwei said in a speech today. International fliers will increase by as much as 35 percent, while local passengers will rise by 15 percent over five years, he said.
Cebu Air has a fleet of 29 jets that fly to 33 Philippine and 16 international destinations. The company said its share of the domestic market is almost 50 percent while it controls 15 percent of international passenger traffic into the Philippines.
The IPO, which was priced at the middle of the 110 pesos to 135 pesos range targeted by the airline, is the Philippines’ largest since 2005, when SM Investments Corp. raised 28.8 billion pesos.
JG Summit will use its estimated $400 million share of proceeds from the sale for debt payment. The company has $300 million of debt due between 2011 to 2013, Bach Johann Sebastian, senior vice president at Cebu Air and vice president at JG Summit, said today.
Cebu Air also said it may sell an additional 28 million shares should demand exceed the stock on sale. Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Securities Ltd. managed the overseas sale of the shares while ATR KimEng Capital Partners Inc. arranged the domestic component of the offering.
The airline, a unit of conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Corp. and the second biggest Asian budget carrier by market value, raised $611 million in its IPO including a greenshoe option, making it a record amount in dollar terms for a Philippine listing.
Cebu Air's debut takes place amid a boom in IPOs in Asia as well as strong foreign demand for high-yielding emerging markets such as the Philippines.
The Philippine stock market hit a record high on Tuesday. Upbeat sentiment following presidential elections in May have helped lift the index about 40% this year and it is the second best performer in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
This backdrop bodes well for upcoming listings in the Philippines, analysts said. Philippine miner Nickel Asia plans to raise $162 million in an IPO next month.
"Having launched successfully, the ones apprehensive on the sidelines are now emboldened to come in," said Alejandro Yu, president of R.S. Lim and Company, a local stock brokerage.
Cebu Air's shares opened at P132 after a ceremony that included flight attendants dancing the flight safety routine to a Lady Gaga pop song on the stock exchange trading floor, peppered with tube balloons carrying the airline's yellow orange colours.
The safety routine dance was a big hit on You Tube earlier this month.
The stock rose as high as P133.5, before closing at P133. The airline had sold about 215 million shares at its IPO at P125 each, Cebu Air's parent said late on Monday.
At Tuesday's close, Cebu Pacific was valued at nearly P97 billion or $2.2 billion, larger than rival Tiger Airways at about $723 million but smaller than Malaysia's AirAsia, valued at about $2.3 billion.
Cebu Air CEO and President Lance Gokongwei said he expects the company's international business to overtake its domestic operations in four to five years as it seeks to increase its international capacity by 25% yearly via new foreign routes and flight frequencies.
"A natural progression in market share dictates that we will grow faster internationally than domestically," Gokongwei said, adding local operations now account for 62% of revenue.
"Revenue growth would be above 20% in the next 4 to 5 years, and hopefully our objective is to retain our margins," he said.
Cebu Air plans to use its share of the proceeds to buy more aircraft from Airbus to better compete with rivals regionally and Philippine flag carrier Philippine Airlines. It expects delivery of three more aircraft this year and 5 next year.
The airline flew the most number of passengers domestically in the first half, topping Philippine Airlines, and also flies 16 Asian routes.
Yu said the Cebu Air IPO was a big boost in confidence for the Philippine market and the company's plans to increase its flight frequency would attract business travelers, adding to its present client base comprising mostly of tourists.
Based on its IPO price, Cebu Air will trade at just over 10 times estimated December 2011 earnings, in line with Air Asia, which trades on a PE of 9.1 times 2011 earnings. Tiger Airways trades at 16.1 times forecast March 2011 earnings.
The IPO takes place against a backdrop of a flurry of new listings in Asian markets. Singapore wealth fund's GIC logistics unit GLP started trading last week and AIA, the Asian life insurance arm of AIG makes its debut later this week in what looks set to be the world's third biggest IPO.
Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan are joint global lead managers for the share sale, and ATR KimEng Capital Partners is the local lead underwriter.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
A Customs broker is now in hot water after operatives of the Customs Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) intercepted the shipment of three kilos of ephedrine at the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC) near the Manila Domestic Airport.
The chemical compound was hidden in a package that came from India.
In an interview, ESS acting Director Joey Yuchongco said the package was consigned to a certain “Juan Carlos” of Salcedo Village Makati City.
“Upon field testing, it resulted positive for ephedrine with an estimated value of P2 million,” Yuchongco, also the Customs Police chief, said. He submitted a report to Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez.
Ephedrine is a chemical compound used in the manufacture of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
Yuchongco said Customs broker Jason Perez went to CMEC to claim the box. However, upon closer examination, it was found it contained the illegal substance hidden inside.
ESS operatives arrested Perez following the discovery.
He said the illegal substance was brought to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) office at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for proper disposition while the broker is subject for investigation.
As to the package's sender, Yuchongo was clueless on his real identity, saying that the name stated on the airway bill may be “fictitious.”
Authorities are still investigating who is the source of the illegal drug.