Tokyo: The president of Japan Airlines Corp said he is against a bankruptcy proceeding under a state restructuring plan and has no plans to completely withdraw the carrier from overseas flights, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported.
In an interview conducted on Friday and published on Sunday, the Asahi also said JAL president Haruka Nishimatsu preferred Delta Air Lines as the carrier’s overseas partner to American Airlines.
A government-backed turnaround fund has told JAL’s main creditors it favours a bankruptcy proceeding as part of a rescue package for Asia’s largest carrier by revenue, sources with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.
But Nishimatsu is against the plan, suggesting tough negotiations ahead between the airline and the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan (ETIC), the Asahi said.
“The image (of bankruptcy) would affect us and we would lose customers,” Nishimatsu was quoted as saying. “If we lose recognition from customers, restructuring would be difficult and this will trouble the ETIC too.”
JAL’s shares hit a record low last week on expectations that it was headed for bankruptcy.
The Asahi also said Nishimatsu was eyeing an alliance with Delta and the SkyTeam airline group, ending its current ties with American Airlines and the oneworld alliance.
The two US carriers have made rival offers of financial aid, keen to gain a greater foothold in Japan and access to JAL’s network to the rest of Asia.
“(Switching to SkyTeam) would involve a big process of changing systems, but (we need to consider) whether or not to value Asia,” Nishimatsu told the Asahi. “In that sense, SkyTeam has many Asian carriers.”
JAL has said it will make a decision on which overseas partner it will choose by early January.
Despite being burdened by unprofitable international routes, Nishimatsu ruled out a complete withdrawal from overseas flights, saying Asian routes offered business opportunities.
Several Japanese cabinet ministers have asked JAL to hand its international business over to rival carrier All Nippon Airways, but the transport minister is opposed to the idea, the Mainichi Shimbun reported last week.