Cebu Pacific to lay off 150 new cabin crew as virus lockdowns mount

Aika Rey
'If the business picks up, hopefully in the very near future, they will be prioritized in the hiring,' says Cebu Pacific

BUDGET CARRIER. A Cebu Pacific plane prepares for landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Photo from Shutterstock

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific decided to lay off 150 newly hired cabin crew, as several provinces and cities are restricting flight travel over the novel coronavirus.

Given more citywide quarantines, Cebu Pacific explained that reduced operations mean fewer flight staff are needed.

“It is a difficult decision but we are letting go of our newly hired cabin crew because less flights mean less time and opportunity for them to gain inflight experience,” the budget airline said in a statement sent to Rappler on Monday, March 16.

“It is painful, but necessary action to take to cope with the impact of COVID-19.  We assure everyone that they are treated fairly and have been given packages which are more than what the law requires.”

The newly hired cabin crew’s last day will be on Thursday, March 19.

“We also assured them that if the business picks up, hopefully in the very near future, they will be prioritized in the hiring,” Cebu Pacific said.

As the coronavirus started hurting the aviation industry, Cebu Pacific executives voluntarily took pay cuts starting March to avoid layoffs.

The airline also delayed non-critical projects and programs, froze hiring, deferred some training programs, and restricted overtime.

The Philippine government has since restricted land, air, and sea travel to and from Metro Manila, prompting Cebu Pacific and other airlines to cancel all domestic flights to and from the capital region.

Cebu City stopped accepting flights from any local airport, while Davao City banned flights coming from Clark Airport in Pampanga.

Zamboanga del Norte also restricted air travel to and from its main gateway, the Dipolog Airport. Only movement of cargo is allowed.

In a bid to help local airlines, Philippine aviation officials deferred fees for takeoff, landing, and parking for a year.

As of Monday afternoon, there are 140 coronavirus cases in the Philippines, 12 of whom have died. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.