• Kyodo News


The government said Tuesday it effectively got Japan Airline’s creditor banks to agree to let JAL file for bankruptcy and undergo court-led rehabilitation, while Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama indicated the carrier will be delisted.

Japan Airlines Corp. meanwhile said it succeeded in securing approval from two-thirds of its retirees to have their pension benefits slashed. Tuesday was the deadline to gain the OK of two-thirds of some 9,000 retirees to cut their pensions by more than 30 percent. About 67 percent of them had agreed to the pension cuts as of 1 p.m., JAL said.

Hatoyama signaled that the delisting of the airline’s stock may be inevitable during the restructuring process, stressing “shareholders bear a certain responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the government-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan and Development Bank of Japan are planning to extend JAL a credit line totaling ¥600 billion to avert a severe cash drain as they finalize the court-led rehabilitation plan, sources said.

Transport minister Seiji Maehara met earlier in the day with executives of JAL’s commercial creditor banks and gained their tentative approval for the prepackaged bankruptcy option, other sources said. Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. are expected to give official replies by Thursday.

Maehara said the government will make an all-out effort to achieve JAL’s rehabilitation without any interruption to its operations.

He added the government will issue a message of full support for JAL’s turnaround once ETIC compiles the rehabilitation plan.

The government was aiming to clinch approval from the main creditor banks and their pledge to continue financial support for the cash-strapped airline before the ETIC pursues the court-led restructuring.

The government-owned Development Bank of Japan, JAL’s biggest creditor bank, has already agreed to the bankruptcy option.

The three commercial banks had earlier sought out-of-court restructuring out of concern they would incur losses from holdings in JAL’s preferred shares.

But the sources said they basically accepted the prepackaged bankruptcy because the airline will need access to massive government-guaranteed funds that only ETIC can provide.

ETIC had reportedly planned to dissolve JAL’s corporate pension fund if the airline failed to achieve the benefit cuts.

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