Philippine Airlines names industry outsider as president

Fawad Maqsood July 29, 2019

MANILA: Philippine Airlines Inc on Monday said it has appointed an outsider, Gilbert Santa Maria, as its president and chief operating officer, just a month after the retirement of the flag carrier’s long-time leader.

The board of directors has appointed Santa Maria, Philippine Airlines said in a statement, adding that the new president does not have prior aviation experience, but was a “handpicked nominee” of airline owner tycoon Lucio Tan.

The legacy carrier’s priority would be to return to profitability by maintaining its service quality, Santa Maria told reporters shortly after his appointment.

Santa Maria, who was chief operating officer of US outsourcing firm Ibex, has three decades of executive management experience in multiple industries.

“The infusion of new blood into the company will introduce ideas that will help enhance the competitive needs of the airline,” said Justino Calaycay, head of research, Philstocks Financial Inc in Manila.

Last month, former Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista announced his retirement plan, while the airline owner’s daughter took over the management.

The loss-making Philippine Airlines, which is partly owned by Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc, operates 98 aircraft, mostly Airbus jets, with a route network of more than 30 domestic and 40 international destinations.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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