• Kyodo

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Skymark Airlines Inc. said Thursday it would try to find sponsors to keep it afloat as it restructures, a day after filing for bankruptcy protection.

Among possible sponsors are ANA Holdings Inc.

Skymark also has said it will receive financing for restructuring from Integral Corp., a Tokyo-based investment fund.

As Skymark ailed, ANA, parent of leading airline All Nippon Airways Co., and rival Japan Airlines Co. entered talks on a rare three-party code-sharing deal. The talks are expected to continue despite Skymark’s bankruptcy.

“We don’t face any immediate funding problem and there is no problem for our operations,” new Skymark President Masakazu Arimori, said at a news conference, adding the airline does not want to shed staff.

Arimori, who replaced Shinichi Nishikubo as president, apologized for inconveniencing customers and said the carrier would continue to fly, although he might drop some unprofitable routes. He blamed the weakened yen and higher fuel costs.

The higher fuel costs added markedly to Skymark’s financial burden because the weakened yen, a result of the Bank of Japan’s aggressive monetary easing, pushes up the price of imports.

At the same time, a dispute with Airbus S.A.S. added to the difficulty, with the European aircraft maker demanding Skymark pay a penalty of around $700 million for canceling an order for six A380 superjumbos.

Japan’s third-biggest airline filed for bankruptcy protection with the Tokyo District Court late Wednesday with liabilities of at least ¥71.09 billion. The government urged Skymark to clear up potential customer confusion by explaining what was going on.

The bankruptcy is the first in the Japanese airline industry since January 2010, when flagship carrier JAL went belly up.

Beginning operations in 1996 as a budget carrier, Skymark now has 36 lucrative landing slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

According to its latest earnings forecast in October, Skymark is expecting a record net loss of ¥13.68 billion on a parent basis in the year ending March, its second in a row, amid increased competition with domestic low-cost carriers including Peach Aviation Ltd. and Jetstar Japan Co.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange has said it will delist Skymark from its First Section on March 1.

Skymark shares on Thursday failed to change hands, remaining ask-only amid a flood of sell offers.

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