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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