Skymark Shares Plunge by Record in Tokyo After Bankruptcy

Skymark Airlines Inc., the Japanese carrier that filed for bankruptcy last week, had a record plunge in Tokyo trading after the stock exchange scrapped the daily price fluctuation limit.

Shares of Japan’s third-largest carrier slumped 88 percent to 19 yen as of the close in Tokyo. The stock fell as low as 16 yen today and had lost 50 percent of its value in the two trading sessions since the carrier filed for bankruptcy Jan. 28. The Tokyo stock exchange will reapply price limits to the stock from tomorrow, it said in a statement today.

The budget airline had to seek protection at the Tokyo District Court after a decision to purchase six Airbus Group NV A380 superjumbos flopped. The carrier filed with 71 billion yen ($605 million) in liabilities and President Shinichi Nishikubo stepped down in favor of Chief Financial Officer Masakazu Arimori. The stock will be delisted on March 1.

Skymark, which will get restructuring support from private-equity firm Integral, first flagged in July that there was “material uncertainty” over whether it would remain a going concern following penalty demands for the cancellation of the A380 contracts. Doubts about its ability to fund the planes had led Airbus to scrap the order worth $2.5 billion in list prices. The carrier had sought tie ups with the nation’s two largest carriers Japan Airlines Co. and ANA Holdings Inc. to survive.

The airline, which has postponed its earnings report to Feb. 5, operates a fleet of 33 leased aircraft, most of them single-aisle planes.

Skymark struggled to compete in a market dominated by JAL and ANA. The two carriers had international alliances, partners and frequent flier programs to retain customers. Japan Air is a member of Oneworld alliance, which also has British Airways and Qantas Airways Ltd. as members. ANA is part of the Star Alliance, which includes Singapore Airlines Ltd.

Buying Double-Deckers

Skymark had announced plans to buy the world’s largest passenger model and start an international business-class service in 2010, breaking from a discount model using Boeing Co. 737 narrow-bodies. Nishikubo said at the time he planned to win market share by charging less than half the price of rivals.

Skymark had already paid 26.5 billion yen in pre-delivery charges for the double-deckers, including money to the engine supplier, it said in July. It could face demands for as much as 70 billion yen in penalties, Kyodo News reported at the time, citing people familiar with the situation that it didn’t name. Airbus terminated the A380 order and with it lost its sole superjumbo deal in Japan.

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