MANILA, Jan 1 (Mabuhay) –Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) entered the year 2022 on a high note after it exited from a voluntary debt reorganization process.

In a statement released late Friday, PAL announced it has emerged from its voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing allows a business debtor to reorganize its debts while staying in operation.

To recall, in September last year, the flag carrier filed a voluntary petition for a prearranged restructuring under the US Chapter 11 process.

Under its arrangements with creditors, the flag carrier will secure some $505 million for its recovery plan upon its exit from the process — the first tranche will be a $250-million facility debt to be pared down in the next five years, and the second tranche worth $255 million will be converted into equity.

PAL said it emerged from the Chapter 11 proceedings “as a more efficient airline with a strengthened balance sheet, reaffirming its continuing role as the Philippines’ sole full-service airline with the largest international network.”

The airline said it successfully completed its financial restructuring within four months, in contrast to other airlines that remain in the Chapter 11 process more than a year after filing in 2020.

The flag carrier thanked its creditors and shareholders for the strong support as well as the cooperation of its industry partners and the collective efforts of PAL employees around the world who sustained flights on multiple international and domestic routes throughout the restructuring period. 

PAL said it has streamlined operations with a reorganized fleet and is now better capitalized for future growth.

The company’s plan of reorganization, which was approved by the US restructuring Court on December 17, 2021, provides for over $2.0 billion in permanent balance sheet reductions from existing creditors, improvements in PAL’s critical operational agreements and additional liquidity including a $505 million investment in long-term equity and debt financing from PAL’s majority shareholder.

The airline said its consensual restructuring plan was accepted by 100% of the votes cast by its primary aircraft lessors and lenders, original equipment manufacturers and maintenance, repair, and overhaul service providers, and certain funded debt lenders.

“Philippine Airlines stands ready to help grow back the Philippines’ local and international air travel markets in ways that renew the tourism industry, serve the needs of global citizens including overseas Filipinos, and contribute actively to the recovery of the Philippine economy,” said PAL director Lucio Tan III, quoting PAL chairman and CEO Lucio Tan.

“Our mission as the flag carrier matters more than ever, and we are thankful for the chance to rebound from the pandemic and continue to fulfill this mission as best as we can,” Tan said.

“This is a celebratory moment for PAL, for all our partners and stakeholders, and for our personnel who sacrificed much while working successfully to keep the airline flying,” said Gilbert Santa Maria, PAL president and chief operating officer.

Moving forward, PAL said it will reinvest in its operations to better serve its valued customers by reinforcing its position as the Philippines’ sole full-service airline with the largest international network serving four continents, including:

The only nonstop flights linking the Philippines to the US, Canadian East and West Coasts, Hawaii, Brisbane, and Melbourne;

The largest network of flights from the Philippines to multiple cities in Japan, Australia and the Middle East, along with convenient schedules to Hong Kong, Korea, Taipei, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia;

A high-frequency domestic network encompassing trunk routes to the major cities of Visayas, Mindanao and Luzon, as well as inter-island services to the nation’s tourist hot spots and paradise islands;

The only full-service options in Philippine domestic skies, including Business Class on many local routes;

Restoring more routes and increasing flight frequencies as travel restrictions ease and borders reopen, including the resumption of regular flights to multiple cities in mainland China, full regularization of flights to Australia and the commencement of historic new services to Israel;

Building on code sharing and interline partnerships to complement the airline’s current and future network and allow PAL passengers to enjoy better connections and access to more destinations through partner airlines;

Expanding PAL’s newly established cargo business to tap more air cargo market opportunities, including the operation of all-cargo flights to keep supply chains moving and to meet specific freight transport needs such as the airlift of vaccines and medical equipment;

Offering year-round great value fares and competitive promotional offers;

Developing innovations to PAL’s Mabuhay Miles frequent flyer program, including an expansion of membership rolls and enhancements to program terms and benefits;

Accelerating digital transformation initiatives to deliver seamless and intuitive experiences to PAL customers, including a more personalized website and mobile app, a streamlined booking process that offers more flexible payment options such as e-wallets and installment plans, enhanced self-service options for rebooking and check-in, and improved chat facilities and interactive voice response (IVR) functions through PAL’s contact center;

Rolling out new product advancements within 2022, as part of a commitment to continuously upgrade services and the overall customer travel experience; and

Upholding, as always, the strictest professional safety standards and health protocols in all of PAL’s operations.

Under the newly effective recovery plan, PAL said it has the option to obtain up to $150 million in additional financing from new investors.   

It also reiterated its commitment to fulfill all refund obligations.

The company said it has cleared over 99% of past refunds and is now back to normal processing times for refunds, except for some 2020 cases that require validation procedures mostly involving third party providers. (MNS)

READ NEXT: 10 more Omicron variant cases confirmed