The management of Japan Airlines Corp. told shareholders Wednesday that they would not be able to pay a dividend this year and vowed to stabilize the trouble-plagued carrier.
Japan’s largest airline concluded the business year that ended in March with a consolidated net loss of 47.2 billion yen and an operating loss of 26.8 billion yen.
Citing high fuel prices and a spate of safety-related problems that caused many customers to switch to other carriers, JAL’s departing chief executive officer, Toshiyuki Shinmachi, asked investors at the annual shareholders’ meeting to be patient.
Many shareholders refused to accept management’s excuses for skipping the dividend, comparing JAL with rival All Nippon Airways Co., which is paying out on its shares.
“Escalating fuel prices are a worldwide phenomenon and it’s not only JAL that is suffering,” said one shareholder, who demanded the carrier pay dividends. “ANA is paying a dividend and I would like to know what has lead to this difference” between JAL and ANA.
ANA had a much better year than JAL. The No. 2 carrier posted a net profit of 26.7 billion yen and an operating profit of 88.8 billion yen for the business year to March.
“We will try our best to quickly become a company that can constantly pay dividends,” Shinmachi told the 2,772 shareholders who attended the meeting in Tokyo.
Shareholders also were openly critical of the airline’s string of safety problems that began early last year, and of recent infighting among executives.
“I was extremely disappointed to see such internal strife in management while there is a huge loss (in revenue) and a series of safety problems,” one investor said. “Will the new (management) be able to steer the company properly?”
Haruka Nishimatsu, who became the troubled carrier’s new CEO and president later in the day following approval by shareholders and the board of directors, answered: “We apologize for exposing (the public to) the management strife. My priority is to unite the company and regain (public) trust.”
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