MIAMI – AirAsia Japan (JW) filed for bankruptcy proceedings in the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday with around ¥21.7bn (US$208m) in liabilities, becoming the first airline to fail in the country during the COVID-19 period.
According to Tamotsu Ueno, a lawyer working as JW’s administrator, more than 23,000 customers have not received refunds for the now-canceled flights. The carrier says it will have credits that can be used on the group airlines for international flights.
The decision comes after the Malaysian parent of the budget airline, AirAsia (AK), cut off the Japanese joint venture in the midst of the global decline in air travel. According to asia.nikkei.com, the company aims to seek help from shareholders, Ueno said at a news conference.
In addition to AK, investors include the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, the health and beauty products producer Noevir Holdings, and the sports goods store operator Alpen.
AirAsia Japan is the only airline in the world with its hub at Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) in Nagoya. Until stopping flights, the airline flew domestic routes to Sapporo, Sendai, and Fukuoka, as well as international routes to the Taiwanese city of Taipei.
The carrier’s administrator told reporters at NGO that unpaid customer refunds amounted to slightly more than ¥500m. On his part, JW’s Chief Operating Officer Jun Aida told Nikkei that the company would cooperate with the appropriate procedures. However, the Asian news outlet said spokesmen for Alpen and Noevir refused to comment on the matter.
The coronavirus pandemic hit Japan before JW had a chance to improve profitability by expanding its operation. The airline has only three aircraft under lease. According to Nikkei, JW posted a net loss of approximately ¥4.7bn on sales of approximately ¥4bn in 2019.
After canceling flights starting in April, all routes were declared to be terminated in October 2020. Most of its nearly 300 workers were let go on November 4, leaving just about 50 to complete the liquidation process. Additionally, Ueno said that certain salaries remain unpaid.
Featured image: Armada utama Airasia Japan. Photo: wiki Commons