By Jun Ledesma

Saving PAL and CebuPac

OUR two airline firms are crash landing and we passengers are in them. This, on account of the pandemic which hit the tourism industry and air travel right on the solar plexus. Sad and worrisome.

The initial reaction was to seek government subsidy but the government is already heavily saddled with financial problems as it has to grapple with social amelioration outreach programs to help the marginalized cope with the horrendous problems that we, like other countries, are beset with.

Airline companies have to think out of the box and, like what is happening today in every home, PAL and CebuPac should make adjustments in order to survive. These two companies after all are not the sole business of the owners. They are among our progressive zaibatsus and transporting their own products to various points in the country will keep them partly afloat.

The challenge is survival and maybe with a little profit. PAL for example can convert half of its passenger space for cargo. But they have to reduce their freight charges by at least 40%, after all, isn’t it that the cost of oil had crashed ahead of other industries? We all remember that each time the oil prices inched a bit our airline companies would make it a reason to increase their rate by the feet. Or, have you ever wondered why it is cheaper to fly from Manila to Hong Kong and Macau than from Davao to Manila? Just asking to prick the conscience of Lucio Tan and Lance Gokongwei.

With more cargo space, PAL and CebuPac can move perishable items from the provinces to Metro Manila where the huge consumer market is. Vegetable and root crops, fruits, fish, and processed meat from saying Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Jolo, and Cotabato can then be sold fresh in the wet markets and groceries in Metro Manila. This will help vegetable farmers, fishermen, hog raisers, and fruit growers sell their products on a sustainable basis and be encouraged to increase their production.

PAL and CebuPac can later take an active part with Sen. Bong Go’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (PB2). If among those thousands of PB2 beneficiaries are would be vegetable, fruit growers, hog raisers, and fishermen will become productive then this is one part of the important transport infrastructures that are already in place.

The key here is for the airline firms to moderate their freight charges. Flatten your rates and income on freight a bit within the reach of farmers and you can arrive on time and not land in the Pacific.



About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.