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Intrepid seeking sponsors for Skymark restructuring plan

TOKYO -- Intrepid Aviation, top creditor of Skymark Airlines, has asked Delta Air Lines and other carriers to support the bankrupt Japanese budget carrier's restructuring, aiming to block a rival plan designating ANA Holdings as a sponsor.

     Skymark filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 28 after its earnings took a turn for the worse as efforts to expand service backfired. On May 29, it submitted to the Tokyo District Court a proposed restructuring plan that would have ANA, Japan's top carrier, and private-equity firm Integral buy into Skymark. It aims to have the proposal approved at a creditors' meeting slated for July or August.

     Unhappy with the plan, Airline leasing company Intrepid submitted a counter proposal the same day but has not yet settled on specific sponsors. It plans to make a decision before the creditors' meeting. To that end, it has entered into talks with Delta and other airlines with Japanese bases that are interested in expanding their operations in the country.

     Intrepid had originally supported ANA's involvement, since the carrier had appeared willing to take possession of planes that had been leased to Skymark. The two companies even signed a letter of intent April 8. But ANA broke off the negotiations after announcing its intent to sponsor Skymark, fueling Intrepid's distrust of ANA.

     ANA argues the letter of intent is not binding while Intrepid contends ANA's actions have exposed Skymark's restructuring to risk.

     During an interview with The Nikkei, Intrepid acknowledged it was in talks with multiple airlines about potentially sponsoring Skymark. A top Intrepid official said selecting a new partner will strengthen the company's proposal.


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