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PAL back in the black after 2021 bankruptcy

PAL back in the black after 2021 bankruptcy


By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad, Inquirer Business

Philippine Airlines (PAL) logged its first positive full-year operating income since 2019 at $297.2 million last year, thanks to resurgence of air travel demand that resulted in threefold growth in passenger volume amid the further easing of border restrictions.

The flag carrier, in a statement on Friday, said its operating profits were supported by the consolidated revenues growing by 112 percent to $2.57 billion last year from $1.21 billion in 2021.

In 2021, the airline booked an operating loss of $98.1 million as several flights were grounded due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Lucio Tan-led airline said it was able to register consistent positive performance in all four quarters last year, eventually leading to a turnaround in operating income. It flew 9.3 million passengers last year, which was 214 percent more than the 2021 record.

Average passenger load factor was at 72 percent in 2022, markedly higher compared to 42.6 percent in 2021. Operating expenses for the period increased by 73 percent to $2.27 billion because of operations of more flights, in addition to rising jet fuel prices.

PAL has been gaining momentum since it had exited a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in the United States after completing a restructuring plan that eliminated $2.1 billion worth of obligations in 2021.

“[PAL] continues to be on a journey of recovery and renewal, and we will make good use of our resources to improve our services for the benefit of our valued customers. We are even more determined to upgrade our fleet, build more connections to key markets and offer improved products and services,” said PAL president and chief operating officer Stanley Ng.

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The flag carrier is in the process of reactivating additional seven aircraft to end this year with 75 units in its fleet. Adding more operational aircraft is deemed necessary amid the airline’s route expansion plans. PAL registered an average passenger load factor of around 80 percent in the first quarter, signaling optimism for the company’s financial performance for the year.

It is also set to increase flight capacities to several destinations in the coming months, including routes to China such as Beijing.

Flights to the popular Asian destination were restarted in January following the easing of border restrictions. PAL recently began flights between Manila and Perth. “This route expands PAL’s footprint in Australia, making PAL the largest airline operator offering the most routes from the Philippines,” Ng said.