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Japan Airlines emerges from bankruptcy

by Staff Writers
Osaka (AFP) March 28, 2011
Japan Airlines (JAL) said Monday that it had completed bankruptcy proceedings, more than a year after a spectacular collapse that prompted a government bailout of the once-venerable flag carrier.

JAL went bust in January 2010 with debts of about 2.32 trillion yen ($28 billion) -- one of Japan's biggest-ever corporate failures.

But it continued flying during a rehabilitation process, including massive job and route cuts, under court protection.

The carrier warned that tough times still lie ahead with foreign tourist arrivals slumping because of an atomic crisis at a tsunami-hit power plant in northeast Japan.

"We cannot be optimistic. Reservations are not growing on the back of concerns and uncertainty about the nuclear power plants," JAL president Masaru Onishi said, citing a plunge in demand since the huge March 11 earthquake.

JAL, whose stock was delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange last year, has now repaid its rehabilitation debts with loans of roughly 255 billion yen provided by 11 creditors including the state-run Development Bank of Japan.

In November last year the Tokyo District Court approved JAL's rehabilitation plan, including 16,000 job cuts, route closures and a debt waiver of 521.5 billion yen.

The court's approval cleared the way for a capital injection of 350 billion yen from the state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp.

The government last year tapped charismatic entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori -- founder of high-tech company Kyocera and an ordained Buddhist monk -- as JAL chairman with a mission turn around the former state-run company.

The airline, which carries more than 50 million passengers a year, announced in January that it would revert to its old corporate "red-crown crane" logo, first adopted in 1959, to symbolise its efforts to make a new start.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --

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