By Emmie V. Abadilla
Philippine Airlines (PAL) yesterday confirmed the appointment of PAL Executive Vice President Vivienne K. Tan as PAL Officer-in-Charge as PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime J. Bautista (JJB) retires effective end of the month.
Chairman and CEO Dr. Lucio C. Tan and members of the PAL board of directors have accepted Bautista’s retirement after he expressed his desire to spend more time with his family, according to the PAL statement.
Bautista is currently in Paris attending the week-long Paris Airshow.
In a message to PAL employees, Vivienne Tan, yesterday thanked Bautista for his many years of dedicated service to the flag carrier.
“As this is the beginning of JJB’s retirement life with his family, let it also be the beginning of even greater dreams for PAL and all PALers… On behalf of my father, I am asking all of you to continue working towards our goals. I am personally committed to working with all of you hand in hand and build on what we have already accomplished,” she announced.
Furthermore, PAL assured its customers, business partners and employees that it’s ‘business as usual’ for the flag carrier. All flights and services are proceeding as scheduled, the company stressed.
For seamless transition, all official communication and concerns requiring the attention and or approval of the PAL president shall henceforth be addressed to Vivienne Tan, the airline stated.
Early this month, Vivienne K. Tan signed a five-year collective bargaining agreement with the airline’s labor union, the PAL Employees Association (Palea), whose members comprise 11 percent of PAL’s 6,829 total workers.
The labor deal, which ensures industrial peace as the airline seeks to hurdle financial challenges, is vital to the expansion of PAL’s domestic and international route network.
A US-educated daughter of taipan Lucio Tan, Vivienne has more than 25 years of professional experience in technology, education, entrepreneurship and social advocacy in industries such as education, airline and property development.
Aside from PAL, she also sits as board member of Tan holding firm LT Group, Inc., Philippine National Bank, Eton Properties, Dynamic Holdings, University of the East and UERMMMC.
She is no stranger to the inner workings of PAL, having worked for the airline in various capacities since 2011. Later, she moved to other positions in the LT Group mainly in the real estate, banking and education sectors.
She holds a double degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of San Francisco, as well as a postgraduate Diploma in Fashion Design and Manufacturing Management from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, USA.
In 2006 she received the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award for Business Education and Entrepreneurship and was also conferred the UNESCO Excellence in Education and Entrepreneurship Award in 2007.
London-based airline survey firm Skytrax awarded PAL a four-star rating in 2018 and re-certified the airline as a four-star carrier this year, under Bautista’s leadership.
Australia-based global airline review firm AirlineRatings.com also voted PAL as the world’s most improved airline for 2019.
Notably, since 2016, Bautista has aimed to make PAL a five-star carrier and be in the same rank as ten others, along with Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and All Nippon Airways, which is owned by PAL shareholder ANA Holdings of Japan.
The top rating will validate PAL’s initiative to acquire new aircraft and improve customer service as well as overall inflight experience. However, Bautista acknowledged that the airline may not be able to achieve five-star rating in time for its 2020 original target since airports play a part in the requirement.
At present, Manila does not have the kind of lounges that will qualify for the rating and the congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) adversely affects passenger experience.