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Gov’t looks into aviation industry’s concerns amid mass layoffs

The government is looking for ways to help the hardly-hit aviation industry as mass layoffs plagued the sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Titingnan po natin kung paano pa natin matutulungan ang aviation industry, alam po natin napakadaming hanapbuhay, napakaraming pamilyang nakasandal sa aviation industry para sa hanapbuhay,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said during the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday.

The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), composed of the country’s leading airlines, called for government intervention such as long term credit facility, working capital credit lines, credit guarantee arrangements, and temporary relief from navigational and airport charges as local carriers face liquidity problems due to worldwide air travel restrictions and reduced passenger demand in time of pandemic.

Recently, Cebuc Pacific’ ground handling service provider 1Aviation announced a mass layoff of over 1,000 employees

The company has earlier let go 400 probationary employees.

AirAsia Philippines also announced a reduction of its 2,200-strong workforce by 12%, translating to roughly 260 workers being laid off.

In March, Cebu Pacific laid off over 150 newly-hired flight attendants, while Philippine Airlines implemented a retrenchment of about 300 ground-based workers in February.

Local carriers earlier sought for the government to provide a credit guarantee scheme that guarantees the banking sector’s loans and credit lines, most of which are secured under collateral, to remove its aversion to the poor credit risk of airline industry under the present operating environment.

ACAP also asked for access to emergency lines of credit to help fund six months of operations, perhaps longer if this crisis is extended, in order for the industry to remain viable until overall demand recovers.

While the government recognizes the plight of the aviation sector, the Palace official said the priority is still the poorest Filipinos.

“Well, inuuna nga po natin muna iyong mga pinakamahihirap sa ating bayan kaya nga po inuuna natin ang distribution ng second tranche ng SAP na nagsimula na po at marami na pong nakatanggap ng second tranche. Sinusunod po natin iyong salary subsidy sa mga small and medium enterprises at saka iyong loan guarantees para sa mga small and medium enterprises,” Roque said.

“Pero sa ngayon po ang prayoridad natin iyong pinakamahihirap at ang ating binibigay ay ayuda para sila ay mayroon namang kakainin tatlong beses isang araw,” he said. -MDM, GMA News