4-Jan-2010 11:20 AM

JAL's credit line doubled to USD2.2 billion; seeking to avoid legal liquidiation

Japan Airlines' (JAL) and the Japan Government reported the following other developments in its restructuring efforts on 01-03-Jan-2010:

  • Credit line: The state-owned Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) will double its credit line for JAL to JPY200 billion (USD2.2 billion), as an interim measure to maintain the carrier's operations until the state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan (ETIC) decides on a financial package for the carrier by the end of this month (Kyodo/Nikkei/The Yomiuri Shimbun/Jiji Press, 03-Jan-2010). Japan’s Vice Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, stated the loan “enables JAL to cope with every possible circumstance”. The decision came after the DBJ agreed to a government request for expanding the credit line signed in late Nov-2009, given speculation that the airline was heading for bankruptcy proceedings. The agreement was reached at a meeting of cabinet ministers the day before the stock market resumes trading today after the New Year break;
  • Credit concerns: Transportation Minister, Seiji Maehara, stated that if anxiety regarding the airline's credit standing grows, JAL may be forced to settle in cash for fuel and other transactions.

JAL CEO, Haruka Nishimatsu, in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, revealed the following regarding JAL’s current and future position:

  • Legal Liquidation: Mr Nishimatsu stated JAL is doing everything possible to resolve its problems by itself and to avoid legal liquidation, adding, “the image (of bankruptcy) would affect us and we would lose customers”. He added, “if we lose recognition from customers, restructuring would be difficult and this will trouble the ETIC too";
  • Network: Denied that JAL would completely pull out of international operations, stating such an action is “simply not possible”. Mr Nishimatsu added that the carrier’s business in Asia is “increasingly strong” and that JAL, even if it reduces some capacity, will still be able to compete effectively with ANA. According to Mr Nishimatsu, ANA currently has an international operations that is approximately 40% of JAL’s international business, so even if JAL reduces its international operations by 30%, “we can still be competitive with ANA”;
  • Alliance: Stated the moving to SkyTeam would be a “huge task”, adding that switching would “involve a big process of changing systems". However, he added, "[we need to consider] whether or not to value Asia. In that sense, SkyTeam has many Asian carriers". JAL stated it would make a decision regarding its overseas partners in early Jan-2010;
  • Operating environment: Stated the operating environment is worse that the oil shock or the burst of the bubble Japanese economy, with the global financial collapse resulting in international business falling to be half what it was previously;
  • CEO resignation: Mr Nishimatsu that while he has no specific resignation date, it is “not too far away”.

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