Bankrupt Philippine Airlines was quick to bring down to earth its president and chief operating officer Gilbert F. Santa Maria who fantasized about the flag carrier getting out of Chapter 11 before the end of 2021.
In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, PAL’s parent, PAL Holdings
clarified that Sta. Maria’s remark was just a “statement of hope or wish from the senior management of PAL” and that it was “not based on any legal consideration.”
In a media briefing three days after PAL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on September 3, Sta. Maria claimed “only an asteroid hitting Manhattan can stop us from exiting Chapter 11 this year.”
Sta. Maria based his optimism on management’s year-long negotiations with the majority of creditors, lessors and suppliers. He expected PAL to wrap up within three months its Chapter 11 case which nilormally would take between nine and 27 months to finalize.
But PAL Holdings disagreed with its boss who was appointed two years ago.
“There is no certainty that the judicial proceeding will terminate quickly that will allow PAL to exit Chapter 11 process before the end of 2021. It will all depend on the acceptance, oppositions or agreements of the creditors, lessors and other stakeholders to the proposed rehabilitation/ restructuring of PAL. At best, it is an optimistic view of the speaker which may not necessarily happen,” said PAL.
It took PAL 7 to 8 years to get out of receivership the last time.
An overconfident Santa Maria, however, expected PAL to emerge from bankruptcy protection by yearend.
“This time, we’ll be done by the end of the year. We will have a new capital and a new balance sheet,” he said in a press briefing Monday.
Sta. Maria used to lead a Los Angeles-based advisory firm before he replaced long-time PAL president Jaime Bautista.
Sta. Maria was a former general manager of Pepsi Cola Products Philippines in the 1990s when the soft drink maker got sledgehammered by the “349” number fever fiasco.