Malaysia's AirAsia X creditors agree restructuring, Airbus orders cut

Air Asia airplanes are pictured on the haze-shrouded tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang
Air Asia airplanes are pictured on the haze-shrouded tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia, September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng
  • Proposing to pay just 0.5% of debt owed
  • Shares close 25% higher
  • To cut Airbus orders to 15 A330neos, 20 A321XLRs

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 (Reuters) - AirAsia X (AAX) creditors have agreed to a restructuring that will pay just 0.5% of debt owed and end its existing contracts, the Malaysian long-haul low-cost airline said on Friday.

The airline has also reached a deal with its largest creditor, Airbus (AIR.PA) to reduce a multi-billion dollar order for 78 A330neo widebody planes and 30 A321XLR narrowbodies. AAX had been Airbus' biggest customer for the A330neo.

AAX now plans to take 15 A330neos and 20 A321XLRs, an airline spokesperson said.

"We confirm that we have agreed to reduce the airline's outstanding orders," an Airbus spokesperson said. "This is another example of how we have worked with customers to adapt to the impact of the pandemic."

AAX (AIRX.KL) said 99% of creditors across three groups had voted in favour of its plan to restructure 33.65 billion ringgit ($8.1 billion) of liabilities to avoid liquidation.

Around half was owed to Airbus for terminating airplane orders, a 127-page explanatory statement for the creditors meeting seen by Reuters showed.

AAX said the results will be presented for court approval in the coming weeks after which it will start a recapitalisation, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

The airline said its cost base will be significantly below that of regional competitors after the restructuring.

AAX shares closed 25% higher on Friday.

Last month, the airline warned of liquidation if creditors did not agree to the plan, which will be followed by a 500 million ringgit equity raising. read more

It is one of many carriers in the Asia-Pacific region to have entered a court-overseen debt restructuring to survive the pandemic. Others include Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Australia, Thai Airways (THAI.BK) and Philippine Airlines (PAL.PS).

The first class of AAX creditors included airports, financial institutions and maintenance providers, the explanatory statement shows.

The second class included engine suppliers, lessors, trade creditors, travel agents and passengers, the document said, while Airbus was in the third class by itself.

AAX also said it was in negotiations with lessors of 29 planes and certain other creditors on commercial terms for continued or future business relationships.

The 0.5% of debt owed to each creditor will be paid from operating cash flow one year after the restructuring goes into effect, the airline said in the document.

AAX also proposed that if it were to garner more than 300 million ringgit in annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, lease rentals and restructuring costs during its 2023-2026 financial years, all creditors except Airbus would be entitled to 20% of those earnings.

($1 = 4.1665 ringgit)

Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Lincoln Feast and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Edits stories mainly on business related topics, based in Sydney. Business journalist with 18 years of experience covering primarily the aviation and mining industries at Reuters, the Australian Financial Review and the Sydney Morning Herald.