Sep 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1135.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1135 2006-03-13 08:09 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO6340
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1135/01 0720809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130809Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9900
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5659
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2544
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001135

SIPDIS

Sensitive
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
TREASURY FOR OASIA
TRANSPORTATION FOR FAA
SINGAPORE AND TOKYO FOR FAA
COMMERCE FOR BISBEE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ETRD BEXP RP
SUBJECT: PAL intends to lease a few Boeing planes

Sensitive but Unclassified – Not for Internet – Protect
Accordingly.

REF: A) 05 MANILA 5937
B) 05 STATE 199212
C) 05 MANILA 5276

——-
Summary
——-

¶1. (SBU) Philippine Airlines (PAL) CEO Lucio Tan recently
told the Charge that he intends to lease two or three wide
body Boeing planes. He said that he wants to test them out
before making a decision on re-fleeting for his North
American routes, citing reservations over the safety of the
twin engine aircraft. He showed interest in the Cape Town
Treaty, which could give the Philippines preferential EXIM
Bank financing for any aircraft purchases or leases, and
said he would encourage GRP ratification. He also said that
PAL is struggling to retain its pilots and has cut routes to
stay competitive. His comments suggest that PAL is
struggling financially and may be considering more
profitable long-range routes. End Summary.

————————
PAL to ‘try’ twin engine
————————

¶2. (SBU) Tan told the Charge that he intends to lease two
or three wide body Boeing 777-300ER planes based on his
positive experiences with the older 737 and 747 models and
would consider purchasing more in the future if the first
few proved effective. Tan appreciated the fuel efficiency
and large baggage compartment of these planes but still
questioned the safety of extended twin engine operations
(ETOPS). He was eyeing GE Commercial Aviation Services
(GECAS) for the lease because it could offer earlier
delivery positions than Boeing could offer, although Boeing
sales representative Ray Lau told econoff, “I know exactly
what Lucio Tan’s itches are and Boeing is prepared to deal
with them.” Tan showed interest in the preferential
financing terms that could follow Philippine ratification of
the Cape Town convention and said he would urge GRP
officials to sign it (refs A,B).

¶3. (SBU) Tan mentioned the need for PAL to acquire a 777
flight simulator to orient pilots to the new planes. He
said that his pilots either fly Airbus or Boeing and many
are accustomed to the Boeing planes. FCS Counselor followed
up by introducing PAL President Jaime Bautista to American
flight simulator company representatives at the Asian
Aerospace trade show in Singapore February 21-26.

———————–
Leaving on a jet plane?
———————–

¶4. (U) Tan talked about PAL’s struggles to maintain
employees and to stay competitive. He said that other
airlines are poaching PAL’s pilots and mechanics, enticing
them away with more competitive salaries that are
unencumbered by income taxes. He mentioned that PAL pays
pilots 300,000 pesos ($5770) per month gross and only
200,000 pesos ($3850) net after taxes, while Middle Eastern
companies offer 500,000 pesos ($9615) tax-free. He also
said that airlines from other countries mandated no less
than six months’ resignation notice as a way to mitigate
attrition. According to Tan, the Board of Investments (BOI)
is studying how to offer more competitive compensation
packages or equalize the labor issues.

¶5. (SBU) With the exodus of qualified staff, the company’s
cost of service rises while it struggles to compete with
subsidized Middle Eastern airlines and regional low cost
carriers. According to Tan, the loss of pilots is so
critical that it is affecting the company’s ability to fly
certain routes. He said the company has lost one-third of
its pilots and is now flying with 400 pilots, which
contributed to the recent decisions to suspend flights to

MANILA 00001135 002 OF 002

Kuala Lumpur, Riyadh, and Laoag (Northern Philippines).
This is particularly frustrating to Tan, given the financial
investment and time it takes to train these pilots. “We
become a training ground” for these companies, Tan
complained.

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (SBU) Tan was vague about whether his plans were to
purchase or lease any planes. In a subsequent discussion,
his assistant told emboffs that Tan feels “his arm is being
twisted” to buy Boeing, perhaps by GRP officials trying to
leverage Tan’s outstanding taxes or bid to operate the new
Manila airport terminal (ref A). Tan made it clear that
leasing a few planes is a better option for PAL than
purchasing planes or making any large commitments right now.
After assurances from the Boeing sales rep and the CDA, Tan
may be less concerned with the safety of the twin engine
than using his apprehension as a negotiating chip in the
debate over the disputed $114 million (ref C). PAL may be
interested in wide body planes to expand flights to the West
Coast and tap the Filipino-American market to counter its
difficulties competing in other markets. If so, the Boeing
777 would be a good fit and we will continue to encourage
its purchase.

JONES

   

 

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