Customers sad but not worried about PAL filing for bankruptcy

Je Olaguera; Melissa Alviar

Philippine Airlines frequent fliers were shocked by the news, and just gave a shrug.

Said Manhattan accountant Je Olaguera, “They’ll bounce back.”

Melissa Alviar, a Guest Experience Representative for Madison Square Garden, said: “The Philippine government won’t allow losing a flag carrier.”

Brand loyalty is probably one of the reasons for PAL’s staying power even after it was announced on September 3 that PAL was filing for bankruptcy.

An official statement announced the “voluntary decision of Philippine Airlines to restructure under Chapter 11 in the United States.” What this means is that PAL would be unable to fulfill its obligations with “lenders, lessors, aircraft and engine suppliers, and our majority shareholder” and is seeking relief as it undergoes a period of reorganization.

“These will enable PAL to successfully navigate the COVID-19 crisis and emerge as a leaner and better-capitalized business for the post-pandemic era,” says the statement provided to media organizations.

The company gave its assurance that all will be “business as usual.” Flights from the Philippines to North America will continue uninterrupted.

“There are no actions that customers or travel agents need to take to retain and use tickets, vouchers, or frequent flyer miles; all will continue as usual under the same terms and conditions of use. Future fares remain available for sale and can be booked through your normal platform,” it says. “Philippine Airlines will continue to fly and serve our customers in the U.S. and Canada throughout this process and beyond.”

PAL: ‘It’s business as usual.’

“It’s sad,” said Olaguera. “This is our country’s main carrier. The only plane with our country’s name on it. Even Filipinos who already changed their citizenship, still choose to board with PAL.”

Olaguera takes PAL on her annual visits to the Philippines, noting how the frequency in schedule has actually slowed during the pandemic. “Once a week na lang ang flights; it used to be daily,” she said.

On her last trip to the Philippines to attend her mother’s birthday in Cavite, she observed how Business Class seats were almost empty except for the last row. “I think cutting down of flights is fine, considering na konti naman ang umuuwi during pandemic.”

She also noted jokingly how the in-flight menu has changed. “Wala ng arroz caldo!”

It’s still her best ride home. “Yun bang you just trust the airline…I give them an A for their great service.”

Filing for Chapter 11 can be a lifeline for some companies that need time to reorganize as they seek relief from creditors. “It’s restructuring…A lot of companies file for bankruptcy,” she said.

Alviar, a film and travel enthusiast, said “these are challenging times for any airline company to keep afloat,” and voiced confidence PAL would pull through. “In the past, U.S. airlines that filed for Chapter 11 were able to stay in business or merged with other carriers. I believe PAL will continue to serve and be the airline of the Philippines,” she said. – Cristina D.C. Pastor

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