The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is asking government to raise the salaries of air traffic controllers in CAAP facilities to encourage them to stay in the country, as the salary offered here is no longer competitive with what is being offered in the Middle East.
CAAP director general Manuel Antonio Tamayo said the agency was losing talent, mostly to the Middle East, where the starting salary is up to six times higher than what the Philippines offers.
“That is the problem: we are not hiring our air traffic controllers, so our air traffic controllers are being pirated abroad. We are having issues because of pay and so on. In terms of qualification, we can train Filipinos. We can make them excellent in this field, but the problem is the pay that we offer them,” Tamayo said as he requested the Governance Commission of GOCCs (GCG) to facilitate the adjustment in the salary grades of air traffic personnel.
He warned that without reform, the Philippines would lose people who can prevent the airspace shutdown from repeating in the future.
An air traffic management officer here gets classified under Salary Grade 20 which pays P51,155 a month. In Dubai, the same person gets a starting pay of around P380,000 monthly plus a free housing unit.
The issue of low salary among air traffic controllers and the resulting brain drain is but one of the issues uncovered as officials look for answers on how the CAAP lost communication and power on January 1, leading to the embarrassing shutdown of the country’s entire airspace and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
The New Year’s Day glitch suffered by the CAAP and the entire nation has exposed a can of worms that have to be urgently attended to. Aside from glitchy systems that have no redundancies baked in, this brain drain problem could result to even more long term problems for the country and its air travelers if it is not addressed at the soonest possible time.*