AirAsia, ANA offer to support Skymark, transport minister says

[TOKYO] AirAsia Bhd and ANA Holdings Inc have both applied to support Skymark Airlines Inc, the Japanese carrier that filed for bankruptcy protection in late January, Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta said today. The stock jumped.

Briefing reporters after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo, Mr Ohta said he doesn't know details of the support that ANA and AirAsia were prepared to offer.

Skymark shares surged as much as 15 per cent as the comments suggest the airline is making headway in its efforts to find a partner that will help it restructure and emerge from bankruptcy. Japan's third-largest carrier filed for protection Jan 28 with 71 billion yen (S$812 million) in liabilities after a decision to purchase six Airbus Group NV A380 superjumbos flopped last year.

The airline is expected to present a restructuring plan by the end of May, with the assistance of private-equity firm Integral Corp. The low-fare carrier was also seeking other partners to aid in the turnaround.

The stock changed hands at 37 yen, up 8.8 per cent, as of 10.55 am in Tokyo. The shares are to be delisted March 1.

ANA said Monday that the airline, Japan's largest, intended to support Skymark. Satomi Ishikawa, a spokeswoman for AirAsia Japan, declined to comment.

Earlier, American Airlines Group Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc, two other carriers that were said to be interested in Skymark, said they wouldn't get involved in the restructuring.


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