TOKYO — Shares in bankrupt Japan Airlines finished their last trading day at just one yen (one US cent) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday, marking another ignominious milestone in the carrier's decline.
Asia's biggest airline, which went bankrupt a month ago with $6 billion of debt in one of the country's biggest ever corporate failures, is being delisted from the exchange under a government-backed turnaround plan.
Shareholders are to lose their investment but the airline aims to continue operating after receiving a financial lifeline of $10 billion in public funds.
The stock exchange said 27.6 million JAL shares changed hands yesterday, but the stock finished unchanged from the previous day's close.
Investors will no longer be able to trade JAL stocks on the Tokyo Stock Exchange although the stock may still be traded on the grey market, a spokesman for the bourse said. "If you ask securities companies, they might buy at one yen or so. But we don't know if they would really buy the shares," he said.
JAL's stock has plunged 99 per cent over the past three months. Its highest share price since it began merging operations with small domestic carrier Japan Air Systems was 366 yen, seen in 2003.
JAL, a once-proud flag carrier that carries more than 50 million passengers every year, plans to slash more than 15,600 job cuts under a three-year turnaround plan.
The airline was established in 1951 and two years later the government took a 50 per cent stake. It made its international debut in 1954, connecting Tokyo, Honolulu and San Francisco.
JAL's woes are seen as the result of years of bad management, high costs stretching back to its days as a state-owned flag carrier as well as government pressure to service unprofitable routes to small domestic airports.
It was also hit particularly hard by the global economic downturn because of its extensive overseas flight network.
The government has tapped Kazuo Inamori, a 78-year-old management guru, to run the stricken airline during its overhaul. — AFP