* Rival plan has put forward ANA as sponsor
* Creditors to vote on rival rehabilitation plans by Aug 5
* Move may enable Delta to build Haneda as transit hub
(Adds Intrepid's offer to forgive debt, comments)
TOKYO, July 15 Delta Air Lines has been
proposed as a sponsor to rehabilitate Skymark Airlines Inc
by the bankrupt Japanese carrier's biggest creditor -
a plan that challenges a separate proposal that has put forward
ANA Holdings as a sponsor.
If the move is approved by a majority of creditors, it could
help Delta use Tokyo's Haneda airport as a transit hub for
passengers coming off its flights from Los Angeles. Currently,
Delta's connecting opportunities are limited because it has no
alliance partner in Japan.
Skymark's creditors are slated to vote on the rival plans by
an Aug. 5 meeting of debt holders. Both plans would likely
result in the winning sponsor taking a stake of under 20 percent
in the discount airline.
Airline leasing firm Intrepid Aviation, Skymark's biggest
creditor, said it had conducted a thorough process to identify
the strongest sponsor candidate.
As an incentive for other creditors to adopt its plan with
Delta as the sponsor, Intrepid in its rehabilitation plan said
it would withdraw a demand that Skymark pay it 30 billion yen
"We feel confident that this plan provides a better solution
to the creditors, so we are quite hopeful that the plan will be
accepted," Franklin Pray, Intrepid President and CEO, said at a
press briefing in Tokyo.
The rival plan promoting ANA, Japan's biggest carrier, as
sponsor is backed by Skymark and domestic private equity firm
For ANA, gaining a foothold in Skymark would give it access
to additional landing rights at Haneda, where along with its
affiliates, it already holds more than half the 486 slots, most
of them for domestic routes, helping cement its dominance of air
travel in Japan.
A spokesman for ANA, which has offered to buy a 16.5 percent
stake the in discount carrier, said that its stance was
unchanged after Delta stepped forward. "We have the experience
and are in the best position to support Skymark," he said.
Intrepid, Skymark's biggest creditor, holds 38.1 percent of
Skymark's debt, followed by European aircraft maker Airbus Group
with 28.9 percent and jet engine maker Rolls-Royce
Holdings with 15.7 percent.
Skymark holds 36 landing slots at Tokyo's Haneda Airport,
which connects to cities throughout Japan and which many
travellers prefer to Narita International Airport because it is
closer to central Tokyo.
Skymark Airlines ran into financial trouble after an
ambitious expansion that included buying Airbus A380 jumbo jets.
It filed for rehabilitation proceedings in late January.
($1 = 123.5000 yen)
(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Edwina
Gibbs and Christopher Cushing)