TOKYO – Tomoyuki Nagao, Philippine Airlines (PAL) Country Manager for Japan, exclusively answers questions from Filipino-Japanese Journal (FJJ) on topics such as the novel coronavirus, Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, what he looks forward to post-pandemic, and his message to the Filipino community in Japan.
Nagao has been working for the Philippine flag carrier since 1999. Before being promoted, he held different positions in the company for the past two decades. Like PAL, it is his mission to ensure that each passenger feels “The Heart of the Filipino.”
How is Philippine Airlines weathering COVID-19? And as the country manager, how do you handle the challenges brought about by the pandemic?
It is still a very difficult progress for all types of businesses. Due to the surge of the Omicron variant in Japan, people are refraining from traveling abroad. Only those with approved visas can travel between Japan and the Philippines, as of the moment. Considering the circumstances, we are very careful in evaluating how to manage our operations and how many flights can we operate between the two countries.
I have meetings with our head office in Manila weekly regarding the operation plans for the coming week. It is very hard to predict the situation of the market in advance during the pandemic because of the constant changes.
Would you consider the pandemic as one of the most turbulent things that you encountered while working at Philippine Airlines?
It is challenging as this is something nobody had experienced or expected. We are learning something new every single day and also learning to cope with each new situation that might arise.
Is PAL ready to take off after Chapter 11? As the country manager for Japan, what do you look forward to after the bankruptcy process?
We are grateful to achieve this with the strong support of our creditors, the enduring commitment of our shareholders, the cooperation of our industry partners and government, and the collective efforts of the outstanding members of the PAL team around the world.
We look forward to maintaining relationships of our business supporters and also to make new ones and together overcome any difficulties and grow successfully.
With all the negative things that are happening brought about by the pandemic, what are the positive things that you see in the aviation and travel industry?
We have seen many airlines coming up with amazing and creative ideas to cater to those who cannot travel and offers and promotions to those who can travel. These ideas have given both the airlines and passengers a chance to learn and experience many things.
Moving forward, PAL will invest in its operations to better serve its valued customers.
What words would you like to give to PAL’s loyal customers in Japan?
We thank our customers for their support, and the Filipino people for keeping faith in their flag carrier through the entire restructuring process. There are immense challenges ahead to be better positioned for strategic growth to continue serving our customers. We shall continue to fly between Philippines (Manila/Cebu) and Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka) for them. - Words by Florenda Corpuz, Photo by Keiko Fukuda Matsumura