Airline Tycoon Lucio Tan Regains Altitude Amid The Travel Industry’s Recovery

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

Lucio Tan

NOEL CELIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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

Billionaire Lucio Tan is back in the driver’s seat. His wealth jumped to $2 billion since we last measured fortunes as global travel revved up, bolstering 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 ago, with a net profit of 4.2 billion pesos. The owner of the flag carrier Philippines Airlines returned to the black in 2021, largely fueled by pandemic demand for its cargo services to deliver essential goods. It’s now beefing up the business, which includes the launch of a new cargo website and app.

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PAL emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in January, four months after filing for Chapter 11 in New York. During the restructuring, it returned planes, canceled unprofitable routes, slashed debt by $2 billion and increased capital. Tan, chairman and CEO, himself infused $505 million in a debt-to-equity swap deal. “We look forward to a comeback year for Philippine Airlines and for our country,” said Tan during the company’s 81st anniversary celebrations in March. Global air traffic and capacity are projected 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 grandson Lucio Tan III (a director on PAL’s board) as vice chairman at 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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