Delta to Serve as Skymark Sponsor in Creditor’s Revival Plan

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Franklin Pray
Intrepid Aviation CEO Franklin Pray, left, talks with Masaru Morimoto, managing director of Japan at Delta Air Lines. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Delta Air Lines Inc. would become a minority shareholder in Skymark Airlines Inc. under a rehabilitation proposal put forward by the bankrupt Japanese carrier’s biggest creditor, forcing investors to choose between competing plans at a key meeting in early August.

Under the plan proposed by Intrepid Aviation Ltd., Delta would consider a codeshare agreement with Japan’s third-largest airline, while allowing Skymark’s management to remain independent, Masaru Morimoto, head of Delta’s Japanese unit, said at a briefing Wednesday in Tokyo.

Intrepid, an airplane lessor that says Skymark owes it 104 billion yen ($841 million), had been seeking an airline sponsor as part of a Skymark rehabilitation plan it submitted to a Tokyo court May 29. Intrepid objected to a plan proposed by Skymark and private-equity firm Integral Corp. that relied on the backing of All Nippon Airways Co., Japan’s largest airline.

“We’re very concerned that the debtor plan with ANA as sponsor is not in the interest of all parties,” Intrepid President and Chief Executive Officer Franklin Pray said at Wednesday’s briefing. “We feel there’s a real danger that the debtors’ plan would not be supported by the majority of creditors, posing a real risk of liquidation of Skymark.”

Creditors will vote on the competing plans at an Aug. 5 meeting in Tokyo. Skymark filed for bankruptcy protection in January with liabilities of about 300 billion yen.

Earlier Wednesday, Stamford, Connecticut-based Intrepid said in a statement that Delta had agreed to offer technical support to Skymark during its reorganization. The statement said Delta has been operating in Japan for 65 years and is the largest foreign airline there.

A spokeswoman for Skymark declined to comment.

“We believe the Skymark revival plan that involves ANA is the best plan,” ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said. “We can contribute to Skymark’s business recovery by providing support.”

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