TSE approves Sept. 19 JAL relisting

Kyodo

The Tokyo Stock Exchange said Friday it has approved Japan Airlines Co.’s application to be relisted, paving the way for the airline to become a publicly traded company again Sept. 19 after going bankrupt in January 2010 and having its shares delisted the following month.

It will be the biggest public offering of shares at the TSE this year in value terms, as its market capitalization is expected to exceed ¥600 billion.

The government-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan, which holds around a 96 percent stake in the airline it bailed out after investing ¥350 billion in taxpayer money, plans to unload all of its shareholdings and recoup the public funds.

“Listing our shares only takes us to the starting line for a fresh start,” JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki said in a statement. “We will make efforts to improve our business performance by providing safe flights and comfortable service.”

The Liberal Democratic Party has expressed opposition to JAL’s relisting, saying the airline — bailed out and aided by the government — has been “earning too much.”

Shinichiro Ito, president of rival All Nippon Airways Co., which is also planning a public offering of shares, said, “We hope a fair and just environment is ensured for competition.”

After going bankrupt in January 2010, the airline was delisted the following month, rendering its stock valueless for shareholders. JAL’s main creditors were also forced to give up claims on loans.

On the back of such sacrifices and the government aid extended, JAL pulled out of numerous routes and reduced its payroll by 40 percent. It completed corporate rehabilitation procedures in March 2011.

Earnings have shown a sharp improvement, with JAL reporting Thursday a record operating profit of ¥31.4 billion for the April-June quarter, a massive 83.1 percent increase from a year before.

“The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will constantly monitor (the situation) to ensure a sound competitive environment for airlines,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

He also urged JAL to consider “repaying” the public by maintaining essential routes. Regional residents criticized the airline for pulling out of some routes.