Philippine Airlines—controlled by billionaire Lucio Tan—is increasing its scheduled flights by 52% this month amid optimism tourism will recover as the country reopens its international borders and the government eases Covid-19 restrictions.
The flag carrier, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in December after a US court approved its restructuring plan to slash debts by more than $2 billion, said Tuesday it will add more than 1,500 international and domestic flights this month.
“We are seizing the opportunity to intensify our efforts to promote international tourist travel to the Philippines, as well as to respond to rising demand for flights to serve overseas Filipinos and a recovering economy,” Stanley K. Ng, PAL acting president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We are reasonably optimistic that air travel will rebound in the months ahead, signaling a resurgence for Philippine tourism.”
PAL said services to US and Canada will increase by more than 24%, with Los Angeles getting 11 flights per week and San Francisco receiving daily flights. Southeast Asian flights will double, with Singapore getting 14 weekly flights this month, before rising to 28 in succeeding months.
Nonstop services to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney will increase by 146% to cater to pent-up travel demand now that Australia has reopened its international borders, PAL said. While flights to China remain suspended pending a relaxation of current travel restrictions, the airline will increase flights to Hong Kong and Taiwan by nearly 60%, and services to Macau will resume next month.
Airlines were among the hardest hit by the pandemic in the past two years as governments around the world imposed lockdowns and restricted cross-border travel to curb the spread of Covid-19. The International Air Transport Association estimates airlines around the world will lose another $11.6 billion this year after incurring about $190 billion in losses in the past two years.
Tan—who emerged as PAL’s controlling shareholder in 1995 when he was appointed chairman—regained control of PAL in 2014 after buying San Miguel Corp.’s controlling interest in the airline. With a net worth of $1.9 billion, Tan, was ranked No. 12 on the list of the Philippines’s 50 Richest that was published in September. His business empire spans tobacco, spirits, banking and property.