Skift Take

This is quite a communications blunder. A premature announcement of a leadership change last week had to be corrected after the PAL board met Monday. In short, the PAL chairman's daughter, Vivienne Tan, won't be leading the airline after all. Maybe someday.

The Philippine Airlines (PAL) board of directors on Monday decided to look for a professional manager instead of letting Vivienne K. Tan, daughter of PAL Chairman Lucio C. Tan, take over as its next chief following the retirement of president and COO Jaime J. Bautista.

Various sources also informed Skift that Bautista remains the airline’s president and chief operating officer until his retirement on June 30. His request for retirement was approved by the board during its meeting on Monday.

The board likewise decided that the younger Tan will assume the position as officer-in-charge after Bautista’s retirement. Most of the 15-member board were present in Monday’s meeting, including the elder Tan. Bautista, despite being a board director, was absent during the meeting, but his staff was present, including PAL’s other senior officials handling international sales and marketing.

Surprisingly, PAL insiders said it was Vivienne Tan’s younger brother, Lucio “Bong” K. Tan, Jr., that moved for the hiring of a professional manager during the board meeting.

“The board itself is the search committee,” said a board director who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “If we find someone, we will interview him.”

Another source said the prospective president has to be Filipino, and “has to be experienced in management,” preferably in the airline industry. “We need a more experienced leader,” when asked to explain why Vivienne was not chosen as president.

To those with knowledge of the situation, Tan Jr.’s recommendation to look outside the airline for a new president isn’t so surprising. An informed source explained that Tan Jr. is a “protégé of JJB [Bautista’s initials)] and Wilson Young [chairman of Victorias Milling, a company also owned by Tan]. They were tasked by Lucio Sr. to train Bong. Bong is closer to them than to Vivienne.”

Meanwhile the airline released a news statement on Monday afternoon announcing the board’s decision to approve Bautista’s request for retirement.

“The PAL Board expressed their gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Bautista’s dedication and commitment to the national flag carrier which he has been serving for more than 26 years. The PAL Board cited his efforts to steer PAL to greater heights through initiatives anchored on fleet modernization, flight route network expansion, and service innovation.”

The news statement added that Vivienne Tan, currently executive vice president, treasurer, and chief administrative officer,  is working closely with Bautista for a smooth an orderly transition.

Vivienne Tan said: “My family and I express our gratitude and only wish for the best for Jimmy Bautista as he gears up for the next chapter of his life. As we transition to new management, I urge all of you — my Philippine Airlines family — to continue your primary focus: your work, your mandate in the company. When each of us contributes productively, we will collectively succeed. We must show the country and the world at large that our priority is the continued success of the flag carrier.”

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Tags: leadership, Philippine Airlines

Photo credit: A Philippine Airlines aircraft. 295571

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