S.Korea budget carrier Eastar Jet files for court receivership

SEOUL, Jan 15 (Reuters) - South Korea’s Eastar Jet filed for court receivership this week, a Seoul court said on Friday, as the pandemic-hit budget airline fights for its survival, considering options such as a merger and acquisition among strategies to stay in business.

The airline laid off about 700 of roughly 1,600 employees last April due to the coronavirus fallout and has struggled to find a strategic investor since July, when No.1 budget carrier Jeju Air Co Ltd scrapped a plan to acquire it.

“The Seoul bankruptcy court plans to find a way for the debtor to continue to utilize its expertise and know-how related to the domestic and international air transport industry through M&A,” the court said in a statement.

It ordered preservation measures to keep prevent creditors from seizing or selling Eastar Jet’s assets and freeze bonds before its rehabilitation effort begins, paving the way for the financially troubled carrier to find an investor.

Eastar Jet flew 35 routes with 19 planes, including two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as of March, a regulatory filing shows. It has about 550 employees since January, the court said. (Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)