By Raïssa Robles
Those businessmen, Filipino contract workers and other passengers who are angry due to canceled flights of Philippine Airlines should keep this in mind – that what they deem essential is only a rich man’s plaything.
I would not have believed I heard this from the mouth of PAL president Jaime Bautista himself if I had not taped it and replayed it five times in a row.
Bautista was interviewed on July 3, 2010 by Ted Failon on radio station DZMM. Bautista rattled off global industry figures to show why they could not afford to really raise salaries of pilots and rank and file. He said the whole industry lost US$11 billion in 2009.
This prompted Failon to ask Bautista:
Kung nalulugi airline industry, bakit dumadami ang mga airline (natin) ngayon. Bakit maraming gustong pumasok sa industry?” (If the airline industry is indeed losing, why do many want to join the industry?)
Itong airline industry, parang tinatawag natin na sexy industry. Ito po karamihan nag-iinvest dito mga bilyonaryo. Even sa ibang bansa. Sino bang nag-invest sa Virgin Air. Si Richard Branson na bilyonaryo.
Para nga pong may sinasabi yung mga taga airlines, ang airlines po ay parang toys for the big boys. Ito ay toys for the big boys dahil napaka-glamorous po ang pagiging may-ari ng mga airline. Pero karamihan dito nalulugi. Pero may pagkakataon naman po kumikita.
Here’s my rough translation of what he said:
The airline industry is what we would call a sexy industry. Most of the investors here are billionaires. Even in other countries. Who invested in Virgin Air? The billionaire, Richard Branson.
Industry insiders have this perception (that) airlines are like toys for the big boys. These are toys for the big boys because it’s very glamorous to own an airline. But most of the airlines are losing. But at times it earns.
He also said that PAL reported losses of around 600 million pesos for 2009.
Hmm. Ted Failon did not follow up by asking if PAL was Lucio Tan’s toy. But that would be a reasonable conclusion.
Hmm. Perhaps, to raise money, PAL can also start a new line of business by selling ALPAP pilot he-man dolls that zoom off into space when you whisper in its ear – AirPhil Express [which Lucio Tan also owns] – and beautiful FASAP flight attendant girls that get all wrinkly and gnarled after 40 days – which would be equivalent to 40 human years [the shelf-life of a flight attendant, according to PAL].
Just a suggestion.