Japan’s ANA to Unveil Restructuring Plan as Losses Mount

ANA Holdings Inc. plans to temporarily transfer workers to other companies as the Japanese airline faces billions of dollars in losses, forcing it to come up with restructuring measures to survive the plunge in air travel from the coronavirus pandemic.

The carrier will cut about 3,500 jobs by the fiscal year ending 2022 and will seek to temporarily transfer employees to Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese automakers, the Yomiuri newspaper reported over the weekend. An ANA spokesman confirmed that employees will be dispatched, without providing further details.

The global airline industry is in a state of paralysis amid the ongoing effects of the pandemic, with carriers slashing jobs and seeking funds to ride out the crisis. United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. both posted steep losses, while Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is cutting thousands of jobs and closing a regional carrier.

“It will be necessary to raise new funds immediately” if ANA posts a loss of about 500 billion yen, said Yasuhito Tsuchiya, a senior analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

Japan’s largest airline, ANA is planning to secure about 400 billion yen ($3.8 billion) in subordinated loans to keep operations afloat, while Japan Airlines Co. is seeking to raise about 200 billion to 300 billion yen in subordinated loans, the Kyodo news agency reported on Monday. Subordinated loans are usually given to debt-heavy or financially weak borrowers to bolster their financial health, because credit rating companies count part of such loans as capital, helping the businesses enhance their credit status. For lenders, they are riskier than straight loans but typically carry higher interest rates.

Shares Down

A spokeswoman for JAL declined to comment on the loan report, saying that nothing has been decided and that the carrier has secured plenty of liquidity.

Shares of ANA fell 1.1% in Tokyo on Monday. The stock is down 35% this year.

ANA is projected to post a loss of 81 billion yen for the fiscal second quarter that ended in September, versus 45 billion yen in net income a year earlier, according to the average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. They predict sales will decline 58% to 231 billion yen. ANA is on track to post a record full-year loss of about 530 billion yen, the Kyodo news agency reported last week.

ANA will also sell about 30 wide-body aircraft because of their low fuel-efficiency and high maintenance costs, the Yomiuri reported. It will utilize its customer data to offer financial and other services, while arranging code-sharing with its budget carrier, Peach Aviation Ltd., according to the report. In fiscal year 2021, the company will cut about 80 billion yen in costs, the paper said.

50% Drop

Japan’s national Go To tourism campaign has helped support domestic travel, but demand is far from returning to pre-pandemic levels. ANA and JAL are both forecasting domestic passengers to drop by about 50% this month.

Domestic airline Star Flyer Inc. is considering raising about 10 billion yen in capital, the Yomiuri said in a separate report. ANA is the largest shareholder of Star Flyer and holds 18% of the carrier.

Although event risks such as natural disasters and epidemic are inevitable for the aviation industry, the carriers probably didn’t expect the impact of coronavirus to be this huge, according to Shunsuke Oshida, credit analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

“The difficult part is that we can’t see how much their credit ratings may fall,” Oshida said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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