Ruben Ciron, CAAP director general, said the new salary adjustment will take effect on the first day of January 2009 since the fund has not been incorporated in this year’s appropriation.
The local aviation community’s ranks of air controllers have been decimated as many have been lured by higher salaries abroad.
To guarantee that these highly technical personnel will remain with the CAAP, Ciron’s board of directors has upgraded their salaries to match world standards.
On average, the lowest ATC and similar technical personnel will receive P17,000 to P27,000 per month; a senior, from P37,000 to P47,000; a supervisor, P47,000 to P57,000; a section chief, P77,000 to P87,000; and an assistant service chief, P100,000 to P108,000.
Ciron’s salary would range from P125,000 to P135,000 per month.
But the good news was met with skeptical disdain by air controllers, who have grown distrustful of government because of broken promises in the past.
“Let me see the color of their money. We will wait until the cash is actually in our hands,” said Ariel Carabeo, a supervisor of the Area Control Center, manning the main radar receiving stations relayed from the Tagaytay City radar site to its office in the CAAP building across Nayong Pilipino.
Nehemia Tady, a senior controller at the Manila tower, echoed the same reaction, saying, “We will wait until the law is implemented.”
Tady added that although some of them were elated to hear the news, many were skeptical that these high salaries would ever reach their pocket.
Despite these reactions, the upgraded salary was no small victory to the decimated ranks of 353 controllers in the country, who for 29 years, have been fighting for their rights to be exempted from the Salary Standardization Law passed in 1989, effectively lumping them with regular civil servants.
It was also 12 years since the first CAAP bill was proposed in 1996.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status from Category 1 after it found the former Air Transportation Office (ATO) deficient in eight principal aspects such as legislation, regulation, structure, oversight, technical guidance, licensing, certification, and surveillance.
“The air traffic controller is foremost in its mind. We have since addressed the problem of high attrition rate by getting the budget department to approve 122 new ATCs last August. Last September, 51 personnel passed a competitive examination and they will soon undergo training while 40 more are scheduled to train in January 2009,” Ciron said.
“Another 100 enlisted men from the Philippine Air Force will be trained and redeployed all over the country as contingency workforce,” he added.
Ciron said the CAAP has hired five consultants from the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) led by Peter Weiss. The consultants are experts in personnel licensing, flight operations, airworthiness, and aerodrome certification.
To assure a high standard of flight safety, the CAAP hired the following check pilots: three for B747, three for Airbus 340, two for A330 plus two more for re-qualification, six for A319 and A320, and three for B737.
“These pilots came from Philippine Airlines and the Philippine Air Force. Their wealth of experience would surely be an asset to the Authority,” Ciron said.
By Rudy Santos
Updated November 03, 2008 12:00 AM