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Business

PAL’s 5-star goal to take a backseat

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
PALâs 5-star goal to take a backseat
PAL, a SkyTrax four-star carrier, was previously looking at becoming a global five-star airline by 2020.
STAR / Rudy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Airlines (PAL)’s goal to be a five-star carrier is taking a backseat for now, with the company’s sights currently focused on recovery.

Asked on if the airline is still pushing through with plans to reach the coveted SkyTrax five-star rating, PAL president and COO Stanley Ng said: “Currently (it is) not a priority.”

“I think we have to do the fundamentals better first and then eventually when we’re more stable then who knows?  We might be looking into that again,” he said.

PAL, a SkyTrax four-star carrier, was previously looking at becoming a global five-star airline by 2020.

According to SkyTrax, its five-star rating recognizes airlines that provide very high standards of airport and onboard product, together with consistent and high standards of staff service across both the airport and onboard service environments.

Last year, the world’s five-star airlines are ANA All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

PAL, however, was able to secure a five-star major airline rating for 2021 from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) amid challenging period.

The APEX rating program is based solely on verified and certified passenger feedback.

After its successful emergence from voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings, Ng said the new PAL is smaller and streamlined to fit the new normal.

PAL emerged from Chapter 11 as of Jan. 1, having reduced its fleet by 20 aircraft and its financial liabilities by $2.1 billion.

With the airline on a recovery path, Ng said there are still no plans at present for the company to rehire employees  who were let go at the height of the pandemic.

Ng, son-in-law of the airline’s owner Lucio Tan, was appointed in late January as acting president and COO of PAL for a period of six months or until a new president is identified, elected, and qualified.

“If everything went well, then why not, right? So let’s see,” Ng said when asked about his tenure.

Ng, the first pilot to assume the presidency of PAL since the early 1960s, rose up the ranks until he was promoted to senior vice president in 2019, where he was put in charge of the airline’s internationally-respected pilots and cabin crew, as well as operational airport and engineering teams.

He said his new role in PAL now entails a bigger responsibility.

“With the people we’re all familiar with each other because I’ve been here forever so there’s not much adjustment. But of course, I’m in a different role right now. I have more responsibilities so I have to look into more things than before,” Ng said.

“In operations, we’re actually supporting the business, but right now it’s more looking into how to make actually a brand that people will love to patronize, to love the brand,” he said.

PAL

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