PERSPECTIVE

Discrimination vs PAL flights at L.A. airport

Philippine consular officials in Los Angeles should help PAL win its fight against this discriminatory measure imposed against our flag carrier.

Concept News CentralPublished 21 hours ago on June 13, 2021 03:00 AMBy Concept News Central


The past two months saw a marked rise in violent discrimination in the United States against anyone there of Asian-lineage, Philippine-Americans included.

Now, it looks like the discrimination in America is directed at the flag carrier of the country, Philippine Air Lines (PAL).

Authorities at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) recently decided to segregate all arriving PAL flights, regardless of origin, to a new midfield gate at the airport called the Midfield Satellite Concourse.

That decision, described by PAL as a “forced transfer,” takes effect on 15 June 2021. Once in effect, PAL flights will not be allowed to use the LAX main hub, the so-called Tom Bradley International Terminal.

PAL officials say that the forced transfer will undoubtedly create a lot of inconvenience and discomfort for its passengers, a large volume of whom are vacationing senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

The new concourse to which all PAL flights will be transferred is linked to the main terminal by a long and spartan underground pedestrian tunnel. That means PAL passengers will be required to walk on foot for about 20 minutes to reach the main terminal.

A few terminal transfer vehicles as small as golf course carts will be available for those who are unable to walk the full distance. Because of the limited number of such vehicles, however, passengers who need to avail of them will have to wait for their respective turns.

Unlike in the LAX main terminal, the mandatory concourse for PAL passengers will have very limited facilities for shops and food outlets.

The reasons for the discriminatory measure against PAL flights are not clear. PAL officials say that the airline will appeal the decision of LAX authorities and that they “will pursue all available remedies” to get PAL flights returned to the main terminal.

While the recent racially motivated violence against Asians in America was all instigated by private racist groups, the discrimination PAL is to be subjected to is state-sponsored.

Indubitably, what we have here is an aviation administrative agency of the United States forcing the national airline of the only country in Southeast Asia with supposedly close ties to America, to use second-rate facilities at its major airport in its west coast.

The effects of this racially motivated measure against PAL will certainly redound to its passengers, who are mostly Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. While other nationals who fly on other airlines headed for LAX are afforded the convenience and amenities of the main terminal there, Filipinos will not be entitled to the same convenience and amenities.

Observers suspect that flights from Vietnam, which fought a 10,000-day war against the United States decades ago, are not prohibited from using the main terminal at LAX.

The big irony is that LAX is named in honor of Tom Bradley, the first and only African-American mayor of Los Angeles, and a symbol of racial tolerance in the city during his 20 years in office.

How this incident of racial intolerance against PAL can actually take place at LAX is baffling.

As it is, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has restricted much of air travel worldwide since March last year. While quarantine restrictions have eased up in many places, air travel remains discouraging for many because the deadly virus is still dangerously around.

One does not need to be an economist or a businessman to tell that the Covid-19 pandemic has grounded many of PAL’s aircraft, and grounded airplanes mean zero revenues. Even if an airplane is grounded, it still requires regular, expensive maintenance. Meanwhile, there are employees’ salaries to be paid.

All of that translates to a gigantic financial headache for PAL.

Although PAL intends to get LAX authorities to reverse its discriminatory decision against PAL and Filipinos, PAL will be fighting an uphill battle.

This is where the Philippine government comes in. Since the Filipino people have an interest in keeping the national flag carrier viable, Philippine consular officials in Los Angeles should help PAL win its fight against this discriminatory measure imposed against our flag carrier not by private racist groups in the United States, but by the American government itself.