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Philippine Airlines To Reopen

October 4, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Philippine Airlines announced Sunday it was reopening after forging a no-strike deal with its largest union, though militant workers vowed to continue opposing the deal.

In several paid newspaper advertisements, the airline said it would offer 14 round-trip domestic flights from Manila starting Wednesday and apologized to the public for problems caused by its shutdown last month.

``Your national flag carrier is back,″ PAL said.

The debt-ridden airline, Asia’s oldest, closed on Sept. 23 after failing to persuade its ground crew union to accept a management-proposed recovery plan that would suspend the right to strike and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement for 10 years.

Its closure left much of the Philippine archipelago without air service, prompting President Joseph Estrada to enlist Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific to fly PAL’s domestic routes to avoid serious damage to the economy.

PAL officials have said at least 2,000 workers will be recalled to handle domestic operations, and most of the airline’s 8,600 current workers will be recalled once international flights resume in a few weeks.

On Friday, about 61 percent of the 6,700 members of PAL’s largest union accepted the proposal to suspend collective bargaining in exchange for 20 percent of the company’s stock and seats on its board.

Asia’s currency crisis hit last year shortly after PAL launched a $4 billion modernization program, greatly inflating the amount of money it must repay to overseas creditors. It has been unable to make payments on $2.1 billion of debt.

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