When flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) celebrated its 81st anniversary on March 15, feelings of longing, hope and excitement filled the air.
Held at the grand ballroom of Century Park Hotel, the anniversary's theme, for one, was both soothing and reassuring. Splashed across an expansive screen of clear blue skies, just below that beloved and poignant logo of the rising sun and a fine aircraft ready for take off, it boldly read, “The future is open.”
Simple as these words may be, they say so much about the citizens of the world whom the pandemic has grounded — two years and counting, and all the more desperately longing to travel again. And with most if not all of PAL's guests that milestone morning earnest members of that citizenry, it wasn't difficult to replace that desperate longing for feelings of hopefulness and excitement, now that the future is open indeed.
This buoyant mood and anticipation set off only went from strength to strength as the event proceeded. While a leaner PAL family emerged from the worst crisis that ever hit global aviation, it was nonetheless a spirited team who welcomed media, clearly inspired by the very young and passionate leadership now at the helm of the flag carrier.
Appointed by the LT Group, Inc.'s revered Chairman Lucio Tan, a second and a third-generation family member, were tasked to steer 2022 into PAL's big comeback to the skies. With their plans and passion for the airline clearly in the right place, realizing a “new PAL” in this new normal has determinedly taken off.
The future of PAL is now in charge of the beloved airline with the installation of Capt. Stanley Ng as president and COO. A true pride of the company, Capt. Stanley is the first pilot and career executive to assume PAL's presidency since the 1960s. He also considered family twice over having started with PAL in 2003 as an on-the ground staff and at some point in his storied career, winning the heart of Kapitan Lucio's daughter Lilybeth.
Unquestionably a sterling choice to lead the company in these perilous times, Capt. Stanley's first-hand, 360-degree experience in the company is further enriched by an Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and Business Administration course from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
Tan grandson Lucio Tan 3rd (LT3rd) was meanwhile appointed director of the board. Nicknamed 'Haan' in the family, the 29-year-old balikbayan is deserving of this critical post, not simply because of his surname.
A summa cum laude graduate from Stanford University with a double degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, LT3rd interned at Apple and Facebook, and last worked as a software engineer with rideshare company Lyft until his grandfather sent an SOS.
In his speech, the Tan scion, who had been living in San Francisco these past 14 years, expressed, “We're not just marking a milestone, we're celebrating a rebirth.”
He added that they have evolved into a “new PAL in overcoming the pandemic.”
“It's a new PAL because we emerged in record time from our restructuring. PAL is new because we have begun transforming into a 21st-century airline,” he furthered.
Given his work experience, LT 3rd is leading PAL toward “network expansion, digital innovation, and cargo-driven strategy to sustain growth momentum.”
Both he and Capt. Stanley, guided by the mission the Chairman and CEO set them on, promised to work together to deliver the “comeback year for PAL and the country.”
Understandably emotional when his moment on stage arrived, Capt. Stanley truly speaks from the heart and, with loyalty, said, “Our 81st birthday marks a day of rebirth for PAL. We will make good use of our new life by delivering a stronger, more reliable, and dynamic airline that our customers will love and appreciate.”
Giving the assurance the nation is waiting for, he continued, “Philippine Airlines will continue to be a full-service network airline that offers unique nonstop routes and a choice of business and economy products for our customers.
“Innovation and a youthful spirit will motivate us in our efforts to grow back in the air travel market. Above all, safety will be at the core of everything we do, from the airworthiness of our planes to the professionalism of our crew and all support teams.”
Now this is PAL's future, here and now.
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