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2022 will be a ‘comeback year' for PAL - Lucio Tan

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 15/03/2022 TED CORDERO,GMA News
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After overcoming financial challenges last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) expressed optimism on Tuesday that it would emerge stronger in 2022 as it unveiled plans for network expansion, digital innovation, and a more cargo-driven strategy.

“We look forward to a comeback year for Philippine Airlines and for our country,” said PAL chairman and CEO Lucio Tan.

PAL is celebrating its 81st anniversary this year.

“Our 81st birthday marks a day of rebirth for PAL. We will make good use of our new life by delivering a stronger, more reliable and dynamic airline that our customers will love and appreciate. You have my assurance that we will stay true to our mission of serving the Filipino people through a network that keeps the Philippines connected to the global economy,” said Tan.

On January 1, PAL announced it had emerged from its voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing allows a business debtor to reorganize its debts while staying in operation.

In September last year, the flag carrier filed a voluntary petition for a prearranged restructuring under the US Chapter 11 process.

Under its arrangements with creditors, the flag carrier will secure some $505 million for its recovery plan upon its exit from the process — the first tranche will be a $250-million facility debt to be pared down in the next five years, and the second tranche worth $255 million will be converted into equity.

With the reopening of international borders in progress along with the easing of local travel restrictions, the flag carrier announced the following plans:

  • Transformation of PAL’s Mabuhay Miles frequent flyer club into a bigger lifestyle program where members can earn miles on a wider variety of non-flying activities.
  • Digital innovations, to roll out within 2022, that would enhance the travel experience for PAL customers, including: a revamped mobile-first website; a multi-channel customer contact center; increased self-serve options for rebooking and account management; an improved PAL Gift Card; and an enhanced Hiraya Flight Pass.
  • PAL’s biggest sale of the year, an 81st Anniversary Seat Sale that offers fares of as low as $81 (international flights) and P181 (domestic flights), now on sale until March 21.

PAL added that it will be deploying more all-cargo flights to develop key international cargo markets, especially between Asia and the US, Canada and Australia.

The airline said its cargo innovations will include a new cargo mobile app and website, more online payments and cashless pay options, “last mile” cargo delivery service via partnerships with express delivery firms in the Philippines, and Mabuhay Miles accounts for cargo customers and agents. 

The flag carrier also said it will further expand its network for the upcoming summer season, covering a total of 39 international and 27 domestic destinations.

PAL said it will have up to 42 weekly flights to the US and Canada, with double daily flights to Los Angeles, daily flights to San Francisco and multiple weekly departures to New York, Honolulu and Toronto.

The airline will also increase its flights to Singapore to three times daily and Australia to 13 times weekly.

PAL added it will rebuild its regional Asia network, with additional flights to five gateways in Japan. 

The flag carrier said it will have more regular Cebu-Japan flights, serving Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya; and daily flights to Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Ho Chi Minh City; Dubai, Doha, and Riyadh; and up to five per week to Dammam.

Starting in April, PAL is expecting a return to pre-COVID levels for its domestic flights from Manila, with multiple daily flights on routes to Cebu, Davao, Boracay, Legazpi, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, and Tacloban; and daily or double-daily flights to most other key provincial cities.

The airline will, likewise, expand its Cebu hub to cover 13 distinct routes from Mactan Cebu to various points in Mindanao, Luzon, and the rest of the Visayas.

It is also planning the eventual resumption of flights to Macau, Bali and mainland China.

"Building on current alliances and interline arrangements that allow PAL customers to reach over 1,000 destinations," PAL said it will expand its partnerships with other airlines.

In relation to its digital innovation, the flag carrier said it will partner with SAP/NTT Data to modernize key business processes for greater efficiency.

It will also embark on a campaign to intensify the promotion of tourist travel to the Philippines and support the renewal of the local tourism industry called "Project Open." — VBL, GMA News

This article 2022 will be a ‘comeback year' for PAL - Lucio Tan was originally published in GMA News Online.

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