Philippine Airlines Faces Ban for Transporting COVID-Infected Passengers

Philippine Airlines Faces Ban for Transporting COVID-Infected Passengers

Philippine Airlines Faces Ban for Transporting COVID-Infected Passengers

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Hong Kong has banned Manila to Hong Kong flights after authorities say the airline allowed three COVID-infected passengers to travel into the city from the route. The stoppage is the latest troubling indication that the Pandemic is far from over for airlines, as popular destinations institute new travel restrictions. 

The ban went into effect on Sunday and will last until 11 September. While the airline will not operate flights traveling from Manila to Hong Kong, it will still be permitted to fly departures out of Hong Kong to Manila.

Contact tracers in Hong Kong traced a minor outbreak back to three passengers on PAL flight PR300. China and the Hong Kong government have a “zero tolerance” policy towards COVID-19, prompting officials to punish the airline. 

In a statement, PAL maintained that the three passengers tested negative before boarding the flight – per Hong Kong’s travel restrictions.

“We reiterate that the top priority of Philippine Airlines has always been the safety and health of our passengers. We assure the flying public that strict safety measures are in place to protect our passengers throughout the journey on all our flights,” the statement read.

Demand for air travel surged back over the spring and summer travel seasons, despite lingering lockdowns and restrictions aimed at preventing the cross-border spread of the deadly Delta Variant. Recently, however, governments have put in place ever-stricter rules for air travelers, including expanding quarantines and issuing vaccine mandates for those seeking to enter their borders. 

Airlines are increasingly finding the continued spread of the coronavirus is blocking off many of their most lucrative destinations. Popular hotspots such as Hawaii, Canada, and the Bahamas are closing off travel to passengers coming in from the United States, placing a future of airline profits ever further out of reach. The ban on PAL’s Hong Kong-bound flights underscores the danger that the Pandemic still holds for airlines.

In its statement, Philippine Airlines said the airline would comply with the two-week ban on flights from Manila to Hong Kong. It also pointed to a strong safety track record when it comes to Pandemic mitigation efforts.

Machinists & Aerospace Union IP Martinez Leads Call for Airline Worker Relief With Schumer

Machinists & Aerospace Union IP Martinez Leads Call for Airline Worker Relief With Schumer

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Machinists & Aerospace Union IP Martinez Leads Call for Airline Worker Relief With Schumer

Airline workers are grateful for the extension of a relief program that brought thousands of frontline aviation workers back on the job, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. said on a virtual call with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The IAM is North America’s largest airline union.

Martinez led the call of IAM airline workers with Schumer, along with Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja and District 141 President and Directing Chair Mike Klemm.

“Without this much needed relief, our airline membership faced dire economic consequences,” said Martinez. “Many didn’t know how they were going to pay their mortgage or rent and put food on the table.”

The airline Payroll Support Program (PSP) expired in September 2020, but was extended in December through March 31, 2021. The relief program is keeping hundreds of thousands of frontline airline workers on the job as the industry reeled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My family was nowhere and got places because of the union movement,” said Schumer. “Here’s an example of why people need unions. If there was no Machinists Union, we wouldn’t have had this bill.”

At the IAM’s urging, and with the support of Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the relief program went directly to workers, not airline CEOs and executives.

“Although the four month extension of the PSP is not enough, it will still keep us from total disaster until a real recovery plan can be put in place,” said Martinez. “You have my word, the Machinists Union is totally committed to fighting for a recovery package that will lift up all workers and meet the demand of a vaccine distribution and full economic recovery.”

Video Report: Spotlight on Southern California

Video Report: Spotlight on Southern California

IAMAW Local Lodge 1932 represents 1600 hard-working airline workers in the Los Angeles area. Customer service, ramp, stores and mechanics from 7 airlines are proud to call Local 1932 home. This week, Local 1932 President, Deryl Gaylord sits down with Dave Lehive to talk about the local, its members and the work it does in the industry and community.

Find out more about IAMAW Local 1932 HERE>> 

Video Report: Spotlight on Southern California

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This week, Deryl Gaylord, President of IAMAW Local 1932 describes the sprawling, 1600 worker-strong lodge, the work that it’s doing, and the women and men that make it all possible.

IAM Local Lodge 1932 President Deryl Gaylord talks with Dave Lehive about one of the largest air transport locals in our union. Based in LAX, Local 1932 represents over 1,600 active members from every airline in the IAM, and their leadership reflects this diverse membership.

Brother Deryl Gaylord is a 22-year veteran of United Airlines who had served in a variety of roles in his local lodge when he joined the IAM organizing team in 2011 during the United/Continental campaign. That experience motivated him to become more active in union work, and after his return to LAX after 7 months on the road, he was elected to the grievance committee and also as vice president of Local 1932. He served as vice president for six years and is now on his first term as president of the local. 

Deryl recognized the work of union activists who blazed the trail before him, especially the late Stephen Cooke, who served as president of Local 1932 and whose legacy benefits IAM members to this day. He also gives credit to committee chairs, EAP representatives, and all the active Local 1932 members who keep doing far-reaching work in the City of Angels.

Airlines Post First Million-Passenger Day Since Pandemic Began

Airlines Post First Million-Passenger Day Since Pandemic Began

Over one million air travelers passed through TSA checkpoints on Sunday. The figure is the highest passenger count since the pandemic began hitting the airline industry in March, but is still just under half of 2019 levels. Airlines still need immediate aid from lawmakers.

On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration logged 1,031,505 screenings, compared to 2,606,266 on the same date last year. In March, the worst month for US-based airlines, travel volume fell to just over 87,000 in single-day passenger counts.

Overall, air traffic has been on a slow path to recovery, clocking upwards of 900,000 passengers three times last week alone, but remaining just under the one-million mark.

The slow pace of the recovery, combined with lawmakers’ stubborn refusal to assist airlines, is creating increasingly grim prospects for the broader economy. “Airlines are more than private businesses,” said IAMAW District President Mike Klemm. “They operate like utilities. Airlines connect businesses to customers in precisely the same way roads, bridges, and internet connections do. The aviation workforce is critical to the American economy.”

A recent study conducted by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) backs up the union argument that the US economy cannot afford a “hands-off” approach to airline recovery. According to the study, 46 million airline-dependent jobs are now at risk. Another industry group, Airlines for America, has released data showing that airlines create $1.7 trillion in economic activity.

Despite the importance of airlines to the nation’s economy, Congress is allowing mass furloughs to devastate the industry. Carriers plan to cut at least 36,000 highly trained and experienced workers, including pilots, gate, tower and ground agents, and flight attendants. Non-union job cuts are expected to become permanent over the next few weeks, while union workers have negotiated buyout and retirement packages with employers that have helped reduce the pain for front-line workers. Airline workers nationwide have engaged in a herculean effort to contact Congress, sending over 100,000  messages to convince lawmakers to protect the industry, but it has produced no additional funding so far. 

An extension of airline aid in the CARES Act has bipartisan support in the House and Senate and is expected to be included in an upcoming COVID relief bill. 

IAMAW General Vice President Sito Pantoja has called on union members to continue to contact their members of Congress, even if they’ve already done so. 

“There is strong bipartisan support for a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) in both the House and Senate, but a bill still has not been passed,” he said in a message to union members.  “Republicans in both chambers have nixed standalone bills that would have ensured the futures of our airline members.”

“With an unstable president who constantly changes his mind, the IAM calls upon Congress to put their differences aside to do what’s right for the American people.”

 

Additional Resources  ///  Contact Your Senator and Ask Them to Extend the Payroll Support Program

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Keep Up the Pressure! Airline Worker Relief on Hold, But Momentum Growing

Keep Up the Pressure! Airline Worker Relief on Hold, But Momentum Growing

///This post originally appeared on GOIAM.ORG

We are closer than ever to save the jobs of tens of thousands of airline workers. Thanks to U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the IAM and our airline union coalition are making huge strides toward securing airline worker relief.

Unfortunately, House Republicans blocked a vote on the DeFazio-Larsen airline Payroll Support Program extension (H.R. 8504) Friday. Despite this setback, we expect further movement on this urgent issue.

“We are done being patient for Congress to act,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Our members need relief and they need it now. We will keep the heat on our elected officials until the Payroll Support Program is passed and our members are back on the job. I am sick and tired of these politicians taking vacations while working people are on the street.”

“IAM members are fully aware of what is happening here and they will not to be used as bargaining chips,” wrote IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja in a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “They expect you to support them not with words, but with action. It is disgraceful to stand in the way of preserving airline workers’ jobs and watch their livelihoods become upended, their healthcare revoked and state unemployment programs become bloated beyond calculation.?”

Critically, H.R. 8504 requires airlines seeking aid to recall employees who were furloughed after September 30.

“Tens of thousands of airline workers stand on the brink of being fired, losing their certification requirements and seeing their livelihoods and financial security ripped away,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Today, Democrats provided a path forward to avert catastrophe for these workers. Chairman DeFazio requested unanimous consent for his stand-alone bipartisan bill to extend the Payroll Support Program. Disappointingly, Republicans objected to the legislation.”

We must keep up the pressure!

Call your Representative at 202-224-3121 to urge them to support H.R. 8504, a standalone extension of the airline Payroll Support Program through March 31, 2021, and to save hundreds of thousands of frontline airline workers’ jobs.

Read the IAM and airline coalition letter to every member of the U.S. House urging passage of H.R. 8504.

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Last Clock Video Goes Viral As Airline Job Cuts Begin

Last Clock Video Goes Viral As Airline Job Cuts Begin

A “last clock” video posted on Tuesday to TikTok and Facebook by a United Airlines Customer Service Agent is drawing attention to the thousands of airline employees who are losing their jobs due to congressional inaction. 

Vange Arizala, a member of IAM Local 2239G, is one of 30 agents at United in Guam who are being furloughed due to the pandemic-related collapse in air traffic. The airline plans to furlough about 16,000 employees like Vange this week, after an extension of the Payroll Support Program for airlines failed to materialize. Across the industry, over 200,000 airline employees and related workers are expecting to become jobless. 

On her last day at work, Vange filmed her final trip to the timeclock and her final look at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM) in Guam. The mood is both optimistic and heartbreaking.

“I’m going to miss this work, and I’m going to miss you guys,” Vange tells coworkers in the post as she records her final walk through the breakroom. With the United Airlines’ theme song “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background, she tells friends that the situation is only temporary. “I’ll be back,” she says confidently.

Finding herself working with only one other employee, Vange suggested capturing the moment on video. “After everyone went up to (UA flight) 200, Joel & I were the only ones left at the counter,” she said. “I told him, ‘let’s do a mini photoshoot!’ I was happy to see Mike & Luisa walk in so we had more people to take pictures with. It was like a skeleton crew this morning!”

The “last clock” video posted on Tuesday to TikTok and Facebook by a United Airlines Customer Service Agent is drawing attention to the thousands of airline employees who are losing their jobs due to congressional inaction. 

Vange Arizala, a member of IAM Local 2239G, is one of 30 agents at United in Guam who are being furloughed due to the pandemic-related collapse in air traffic. The airline plans to furlough about 16,000 employees like Vange this week, after an extension of the Payroll Support Program for airlines failed to materialize. Across the industry, over 200,000 airline employees and related workers are expecting to become jobless. 

On her last day at work, Vange filmed her final trip to the timeclock and her final look at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM) in Guam. The mood is both optimistic and heartbreaking.

“I’m going to miss this work, and I’m going to miss you guys,” Vange tells coworkers in the post as she records her final walk through the breakroom. With the United Airlines’ theme song “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background, she tells friends that the situation is only temporary. “I’ll be back,” she says confidently.

Finding herself working with only one other employee, Vange suggested capturing the moment on video. “After everyone went up to (UA flight) 200, Joel & I were the only ones left at the counter,” she said. “I told him, ‘let’s do a mini photoshoot!’ I was happy to see Mike & Luisa walk in so we had more people to ta

Friends were quick to flood her comments with warm thoughts and fond expressions of friendship. “Vangie… what a graceful exit!” said Carol Salgado of Hagatna. 

Efforts by airline workers to avoid historic job losses in commercial aviation have been nothing short of heroic. Union members have sent over 90,000 messages to lawmakers, winning the support of both parties and the president for an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP). The program was part of the CARES Act which paid labor costs for airlines while forbidding them from conducting layoffs. Early retirements, union-negotiated buyout offers, and partial pay programs have cut the number of involuntary furloughs by thousands. A new COVID relief package including the PSP is still being negotiated by House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and has yet to be formally introduced.   

Vange Arizala (on right) in a pre-pandemic pose with friends at work.

Earlier in the day, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told a CNN interviewer that he would consider postponing layoffs for a few days if Congress could ensure that a job package would happen soon. The current PSP expires at midnight on September 30, which triggered the furloughs. 

When asked about the decision to share her touching farewell message, Vange said that building community was important at this moment. “So many of us are going through this,” she said. “It may help to know that we are going through it together.”