Cebu Pacific Denies Preference for Foreign Pilots

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific has denied allegations that it would rather hire foreign pilots instead of Filipino pilots. It was reported earlier this year that the country's largest low cost airline was in search of more foreign pilots as there were an insufficient number of qualified local candidates available in the country.

Image Source: Cebu Pacific
Cebu Pacific currently employs 45 foreign pilots. But according to the airline, that represents only between 5 to 10 percent of its entire pilot roster. "We currently have 45 foreign pilots hired for regular positions," the airline said in a statement released last week. "Approximately 5 to 10 percent of Cebu Pacific's pilots are foreign nationals."

The airline was accused by two local politicians from Mindanao of hiring more foreign pilots than Filipinos to operate new aircraft that are scheduled for delivery over the next seven years. "With these new aircraft, more pilots and airline crew will be needed which could mean more employment opportunities for our fellow Filipinos," said Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez. "Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific has decided to hire foreign pilots because, according to them, they were unable to find suitable local candidates." The lawmaker also claimed that another reason the airline prefers foreign pilots is because of the alleged high cost of training Airbus-grade pilots, which can start as high as $30,000 for a 40-day course. 

Cebu Pacific defended its hiring policy stating that the airline is open to 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," the airline said. "Cebu Pacific just like other airlines have opened pilot applications to both local and foreign pilots."

Meanwhile, the two Mindanao politicians have authored House Resolution No. 1037 to conduct an inquiry into the alleged hiring preference. They said that in addition to determining if there truly is 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."

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