Bankruptcy no option for JAL, Maehara says

Kyodo News

New transport minister Seiji Maehara said Thursday that bankruptcy is not an option for struggling Japan Airlines Corp., emphasizing that JAL and All Nippon Airways Co. must remain as the two pillars of Japan’s aviation industry.

Maehara also indicated at a news conference that the new government led by the Democratic Party of Japan would accelerate efforts to rehabilitate JAL, saying, “The time left for us for the rehabilitation of JAL is limited.”

The carrier, currently under a state-supervised rehabilitation process, is in separate talks on receiving capital investment from the world’s two biggest airlines — Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines.

It intends to submit a business improvement plan this month to an expert panel of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry for approval.

Before the news conference, Maehara told reporters he would not take over the panel created by the previous administration led by the Liberal Democratic Party to monitor the turnaround of the loss-making airline.

He also said his ministry will have to check whether the improvement plan would be sustainable.

A member of the DPJ, Maehara took up his ministerial post Wednesday.