PAL weighs filing for 'bankruptcy' option as streamlining continues

Published May 19, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has “no definite decision at this time” about filing for bankruptcy in the US to get court protection from creditors.

And yet, “all options are possible,” the flag carrier acknowledged in its latest disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

To keep afloat, PAL is streamlining its fleet of 97 aircraft, returning six planes to lessors while adding more routes to its Pacific network and boosting cargo operations.

Earlier, the flag carrier already put off over a dozen plane orders for the next half decade and laid off 2,730 employees, 35 per cent of its work force of 7,800.

Todate, PAL is in discussions with aircraft lessors to return a couple of Airbus SE A350s and four Boeing 777s to cut down its costs.

The flag carrier is managing its liquidity and hoping “to get the forbearance from our lessors on the payments on the aircraft,” President Gilbert Santa Maria recently announced.

Despite having to restructure its business to survive the disaster the pandemic wreaked on the global aviation sector, PAL insists it will carry on.

“Our flights and operations will not be affected in any restructuring,” the airline announced in a statement issued last week.

“We continue to increase our international and domestic flights as the market recovers with easing of travel restrictions,” PAL stressed.

Furthermore, PAL will continue to operate repatriation flights and transport COVID-19 vaccines to and throughout the Philippines, as part of the global effort to combat the pandemic, the airline assured.

“PAL management and stakeholders continue to work on a comprehensive restructuring plan that will enable PAL to emerge financially stronger from the current global crisis,” the airline underscored.

​The flag carrier has to restructure some $5 billion borrowings.

PAL reported losses of P7.78 Billion as of September 2020, its latest available financial report.

Its revenues plunged 55 per cent, from P36.64 Billion in the comparative period in 2019 to P8.47 Billion in September, last year.

To ensure the airline’s survival, Chairman Lucio C. Tan infused P18 Billion.

But PAL incurred over P15.9 Billion COVID19-related refund requests when it canceled over 60,000 flights and grounded 1.3 million passengers in the lockdown.