New rule is not a Filipino American issue but a show of disregard to the welfare and rights of elderly and disabled persons.

As copies of Weekend Balita get to the streets of Los Angeles, it is quite likely that the temporary stay on the transfer of Philippine Airlines (PAL) planes to a new LAX gate has been lifted by the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) — which means that PAL flights will no longer be allowed to use the boarding gates of the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), and instead, will be directed to the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC).

          The new rule that was imposed against the Philippine flag carrier was originally scheduled to take effect on June 15. However, a fire and security drill in the airport caused LAWA to move the date of PAL transfer to June 18.

          But an outspoken defender of Filipino American passengers, Ethel Rubio, president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Greater Los Angeles (UPAAGLA), has remained hopeful that Los Angeles authorities would still change their minds.

          Rubio stressed that the opposition to the new LAWA rule “is not just a Filipino American issue” but more of a push back against an apparent insensitivity to the welfare and rights of elderly and disabled persons.

          The Fil-Am leader said she remains hopeful that LAWA would still walk back its decision.

          Rubio said she recently had a conversation with Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de Leon — who has conducted an inspection of the new LAX facility.

          “I believe that he (de Leon) agrees with us (Filipino Americans) that the transfer of PAL would really cause problems for elderly and disabled passengers,” Rubio said.

          Rubio also explained that while she was aware that “PAL is a private entity” she still cannot ignore the fact that it is still the passengers who would bear the brunt of the changes in LAX.

          The University of the Philippines (UP) alumni urged organizations and leaders of the Filipino American community to continue raising the issue.

Earlier, Rubio told an online session of the LA City Council that the PAL transfer would result in passengers getting additional 20-minute walk, via escalators/elevators and a long tunnel.

Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) make up 35% of PAL customers flying to Manila from LAX and vice versa.

Also, sources have earlier told Weekend Balita that “there is no compelling need for the transfer” as the MSC was built to deal with a lack of gate space at LAX.

“But with the lower levels of travel during the pandemic there is more than sufficient capacity at the main TBIT today,” one source explained.

Another source revealed that PAL is allegedly “being punished for not being a part of a larger airline alliance, as airport staff has informed us that keeping alliance partners together was a big part of the decision to move PAL.”

PAL is the top wheelchair user among international carriers which averaged 3,320/month (arrivals+departures) wheelchair passengers in 2019.

LAWA is a branch of the City of Los Angeles and governed by a seven-member Board of Airport Commissioners who are appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles and approved by the City Council.