Delta eyes investment in bankrupt Japanese carrier

Delta eyes investment in bankrupt Japanese carrier

Delta Air Lines is reported to be offering to invest in bankrupt Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines in a battle for scarce Tokyo take-off and landing slots.

Intrepid Aviation, the US aircraft leasing company that is Skymark’s biggest creditor, said it was proposing Delta as a sponsor for a restructuring plan to revive the airline.

That means other debt holders will be asked to choose between a Delta-sponsored plan and an alternative lifeline offered by Japan’s biggest carrier All Nippon Airways.

“Intrepid believes this plan offers the best opportunity to preserve Skymark as Japan’s third-largest independent carrier,” it said.

Delta would gain access to 36 slots that Skymark holds at Tokyo’s Haneda airport — the only slots belonging to a budget carrier not linked to the country’s two big airlines.

That would allow the US carrier to offer flights connecting international travellers to cities across the country at a time when Japan is enjoying a strong boom in inbound tourism on the back of a weaker yen, the Financial Times reported.

Foreign visitor numbers are expected to continue to rise with Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020.

ANA said April it would buy a stake of up to 19.9% in Skymark while private equity fund Integral would take 50.1%.

Delta declined to comment on how much it plans to invest in Skymark, saying it was seeking longer-term benefits in supporting the carrier.

Skymark was forced to file for bankruptcy in January, saddled with more than $600 million of debt after an aggressive expansion push.

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