Cebu Pacific denies choosing foreign pilots over Pinoys

Posted at 05/14/2014 4:36 PM | Updated as of 05/14/2014 4:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Gokongwei-owned Cebu Pacific denied allegations that it prefers hiring foreign pilots over Filipino pilots.

The low-cost carrier admitted that it currently employs 45 foreign pilots, but the airline said it makes up only about 5 to 10 percent of its pilot staff.

“We currently have 45 foreign pilots hired for regular positions. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of Cebu Pacific's pilots are foreign nationals,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez alleged that the airline hired more foreign pilots than Filipinos to operate new aircraft to be delivered in the next seven years.

"With these new aircrafts, more pilots and airline crew will be needed which could mean more employment opportunities for our fellow Filipinos…Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific has decided to hire foreign pilots because, according to them, they were unable to find suitable local candidates," the Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said.

He added that another reason why Cebu Pacific decided to hire foreign pilots is the alleged high cost of training Airbus-grade pilots, which could go as high as at least $30,000 (about P1.6 million) for a 40-day course.

Cebu Pacific, however, said it is open to accept applications from both local and foreign pilots.

“The demand for pilots has significantly grown as airlines around the world have been expanding and placing orders for new aircraft. Cebu Pacific just like other airlines have opened pilot applications to both local and foreign pilots,” the airline said.

The two Mindanao lawmakers have authored House Resolution No. 1037 directing the Committee on Labor and/or the Committee on Transportation to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alleged preference.

They said that aside from probing if there is indeed a shortage of Filipino pilots, "there is also a need to determine how we can help Filipinos who dream of becoming pilots in getting scholarships and/or loans which can help them pursue their dreams.”