Dominguez: Gov’t not interested to take over skidding airlines
MANILA, Philippines — The government will not take over the operations of domestic airlines skidding due to the global tourism slump amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said Wednesday.
Dominguez told members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) during the 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo that the government and airlines had been in “deep” talks for about half a year now or since the pandemic grounded travel here and abroad.
“They have prepared at least four or five plans for their finances. And the reason they say is, the situation is changing so quickly that they have to keep on revising their plans,” Dominguez said.
Local airlines have been shedding thousands of jobs as they currently operate very few flights, hence incur billions of pesos in losses.
For the part of the government, “we are prepared to participate in the assistance to the airline industry,” said Dominguez, who heads President Duterte’s economic team.
Dominguez earlier said the Department of Finance (DOF) was looking into the possible qualification of airlines in the national emergency investment vehicle joint-venture of state-run lenders Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), which will plunk at least P50 billion into a holding company to save corporations deemed “critical to national interest.”
“But let me point out that whatever assistance we have or we are going to provide will be part only of the entire process. The private sector banks have to cough up the majority of the assistance,” Dominguez said.
“I don’t want to be in a position, because the government is not in a good position to evaluate credit risks. So we will rely on the participation of private banks and we will support their efforts to help revive the industry,” Dominguez added.
Dominguez said “the government does not want to end up owning the airlines.” Dominguez had served as president of flag carrier Philippine Airlines.