A MAKATI court has ordered a former Philippine Airlines pilot to pay the carrier almost P5 million for resigning abruptly and not reimbursing the airline the cost of his and his replacement’s training.
Judge Elpidio Calis of Branch 133 ordered Zenon Lukban to pay the airline P1.5-million plus interest, at the rate of six percent annually, to compensate it for his training at the PAL Aviation School in 2006.
Calis also ordered Lukban to pay the airline P1.87 million plus interest, the amount it spent to train his replacement, and P50,000 in attorneys’ fees.
The court’s decision, dated Sept. 15, 2010, comes on the heels of the airline’s decision to file multi-million-peso damage suits against 27 pilots and first officers who resigned in August for higher-paying jobs abroad.
The court said the agreement signed by Lukban required him to work for the airline for five years in exchange for the cost of his training.
Lukban resigned on April 19, 2006, but the airline rejected it because it violated the terms of his contract, which would expire only in July 2009. Lukban went ahead.
“The court decision sends a strong message that contractual obligations must be honored and respected,” airline spokeswoman Cielo Villaluna said in a text message.
She refused to comment on the cases against 10 other pilots that the airline has sued following their resignations in August, when the carrier was forced to cancel flights to Hong Kong, Bacolod and Cebu. The airline said the case of the remaining 17 pilots would also be brought to court in the coming days.
The airline is in a dispute with its ground employees and cabin crew over its outsourcing plans and labor policies.The PAL Employees Association and Flight Attendants’ and Stewards’ Association of the Philippines have filed separate notices of strike against the airline, but the Labor Department has assumed jurisdiction over both cases, he nce effectively stopping them from striking