• Joe Breitfeller

Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei Reflects on Wisdom From His Dad on Airline’s 25th Anniversary

As Cebu Pacific celebrates their 25th anniversary today, the company’s CEO, Lance Gokongwei reflects on valuable lessons from his dad, John Gokongwei, Jr. aka “Big John” the founder of the airline.


Cebu Pacific Founder John "Big John" Gokongwei - Courtesy Cebu Pacific

On Monday (March 8, 2021), Cebu Pacific celebrated their 25th anniversary, with a heartfelt commentary from the company’s CEO about valuable lessons learned from his Dad, CEB founder, John Gokongwei, Jr. aka “Big John.” As explained by Lance Gokongwei, although his father had no experience in running an airline, he began toying with the idea of a startup in the late 1980s. The senior Gokongwei was undeterred by his lack of experience or the prospect of competing against established behemoths in the industry. It was an exciting time in the local aviation industry, which was steadily opening with the liberalization of air travel, and besides, Big John had been fascinated by airplanes since he was a kid and loved to travel.


Commenting on the airline’s founding and wisdom from his father, Cebu Pacific’s CEO, Lance Gokongwei, said,


“He [Big John] was in the United States at that time and read about a low-cost carrier called Southwest. That's how all this started. He came up to my office one day and said, 'I started this airline—can you think of anyone who could help?' For me, that meant he wanted me to help, so that's what I did.


“All the lessons my dad taught us – he taught not through words, but by example. And all the lessons he taught, guide me until now. You can never stop learning from others. Even when you're the boss or the manager, you will benefit from the ideas of your colleagues. No matter what challenges arise, make sure to find the solution, even if it doesn't come from yourself. Till today, I think Dad was most successful with businesses that catered to every man, the common man, because that's who he was himself.”


Further expressing gratitude to the airline’s customers and team members, Lance Gokongwei added,


“The unwavering support you have given us through the years propels us to pursue new opportunities, to usher #MoreSmilesAhead with everyJuan. Our strong team - from the flight crew to the operations team, to those working from home or offices across the network - remain true to their service in making sure you arrive to your destination as safe and comfortable as possible. We have witnessed a lot of changes in 25 years - changes that enabled us to grow and reaffirm why we fly. As we celebrate this milestone, our commitment remains: to make the skies accessible for everyJuan of you in the years to come.”


Since the airline’s 1996 founding, Cebu Pacific has fulfilled Big John’s vision to make air travel accessible to more Filipinos. While the airline known for low fares and great value has encountered their share of turbulent skies over the last 25 years, not to mention the global COVID-19 pandemic. The airline continues to meet and overcome challenges, under the steady and able leadership of Lance Gokongwei’s – still guided by Big John’s wisdom.



Source: Cebu Pacific