PAL not in ‘immediate’ risk of bankruptcy

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PHILIPPINE Airlines is not in immediate danger of bankruptcy as its shareholders have injected around P15.2 billion into the flag carrier to keep it afloat, its top official said on Thursday.

“Our shareholders last February this year had approved an injection of $600 million,” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert F. Santa Maria said in an interview with news channel ANC.

“About half has already been completed, so we are not in immediate danger of bankruptcy,” he added.

He made the statement a day after PAL Holdings, Inc., the listed operator of the airline, reported losses of P10.31 billion in 2019.

Mr. Santa Maria said a “good chunk” of the losses last year had been caused by the new lease accounting standard or the PFRS 16.

In its 2019 annual report, PAL said: “A material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the Group’s ability to continue.”

Mr. Santa Maria said: “So now that two months are going to pass, plus the losses in February and March, we may be approaching close to $1 billion … in revenues that have disappeared because of the COVID-19 crisis.”

On whether the company plans to cut more jobs, he said: “At this point in time, it would be extremely inhuman of us to drop our employees on the streets while the pandemic is raging. The reality is that demand will not probably recover for about two or three years, so we will have an excess of employees. If the recovery is going to be rapid, then we may retain more employees than we anticipate.”

Since 2017, PAL has lost a total of P17.6 billion. — Arjay L. Balinbin