Friday, December 2, 2022

Airline tycoon Lucio Tan regains stature amid travel industry recovery

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This story appears in the August 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia

This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of the Philippines’ Richest 2022. See the full list here.

Billionaire tan point is back in the driver’s seat. His fortune jumped to $2 billion since we last measured wealth as global travel grew, underpinning the recovery of his airline firm PAL Holdings.

Accelerating passenger and cargo sales tripled PAL’s first-half revenue to 58.1 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) from a year earlier, with a net profit of 4.2 billion pesos. Flag carrier owner Philippines Airlines returned to the black in 2021, driven largely by pandemic demand for its cargo services to deliver essential goods. It is now strengthening the business, which includes the launch of a new website and cargo app.

PAL emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in January, four months after filing for Chapter 11 in New York. During the restructuring, it turned around aircraft, canceled unprofitable lines, reduced debt by $2 billion and increased capital. Tan, chairman and CEO, himself put in $505 million in a debt-to-equity swap deal. “We look forward to a year of comeback for Philippine Airlines and for our country,” Tan said during the company’s 81st anniversary celebrations in March. Global air traffic and capacity is forecast to reach about three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels this year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Earlier this year, Tan appointed son-in-law Stanley Ng, a former PAL pilot, as president and chief operating officer. Separately, he named nephew Lucio Tan III (a director on PAL’s board) as vice chairman in his LT Group. The listed company, which has interests in banking, tobacco and property, posted 91.2 billion pesos in sales last year.

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