2009年10月30日 星期五

Japan Says JAL Can Be Saved, With a Bailout

Japan Says JAL Can Be Saved, With a Bailout

October 29, 2009, 11:55 am

Japan set the stage for a huge bailout of Japan Airlines on Thursday, telling the struggling carrier to turn to a state-backed body for assistance, a move that ruled out a tougher stance by a new left-leaning government in Tokyo against the country’s powerful corporations, Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times reports.

The government said JAL, Japan’s largest carrier by revenue, had been instructed to apply for funds from a state-backed turnaround body, after a special task force said saving the airline was “definitely possible” but would require a “substantial” injection of public money.

The former flagship carrier, which was privatized in 1987, was bailed out three times since 2001 under the previous administration, but it is still reeling from plunging revenues and $15 billion in debt. The airline posted a record quarterly net loss of 99 billion yen ($1.08 billion), in the three months that ended in June, and has forecast a net loss of 63 billion yen for the fiscal year to March.

Some had predicted that Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party cast the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party from power in August, could let JAL go under to underline a promise to shift Japan’s resources away from corporations and toward households.

But ultimately, JAL is big to fail, Seiji Maehara, the transportation minister, told reporters Thursday. He said it was too early to say how big the bailout would be, however.

“If JAL were to stop flying, there would be serious repercussions for Japan’s economy,” and it would disrupt travel to and from other countries, Mr. Maehara told reporters Thursday. “It is not your ordinary company,” he said.

Mr. Maehara stressed that JAL would need to make aggressive cutbacks to receive fresh public funds, including rolling back the company’s bloated bureaucracy, downsizing its fleet and slashing so-called legacy costs, which include pension liabilities of about 330 billion yen.

The minister also criticized previous bailouts, calling them mere stop-gap measures, and said his government was committed to bringing about a more comprehensive turnaround.

“Under the previous administration, there was no real due diligence, no real turnaround strategy,” Mr. Maehara said.

JAL had earlier submitted its own draft reconstruction plan, which included cuts of 6,800 jobs, or about 14 percent of its workers, but it failed to get a passing mark from Mr. Maehara.

A government bailout could complicate partnership negotiations between JAL and several other top airlines, including Delta Air Lines, the world’s biggest airline operator; American Airlines; and Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline group.

A partnership could give a foreign airline a firm foothold in Japan’s highly regulated airline sector, as well as a gateway to the fast-growing Asia. Foreign airlines are also vying for access to berths at Haneda Airport in central Tokyo. The airport will add a fourth runway next year that could increase its capacity for domestic and international flights by 40 percent.

Government money could lead JAL to reject foreign capital; on the other hand, a more robust balance sheet would make JAL more attractive to investors. JAL’s main creditor banks had previously balked at requests from JAL to waive loans worth 250 billion yen, according to local media.

JAL will now apply for assistance from the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation, set up by the government this month to invest in struggling but viable firms. The turnaround body will conduct its own due diligence before formally agreeing to aid JAL, Mr. Maehara said, though government commitment to the airline appeared certain Thursday.

Shares of Japan Airlines, which have plunged in recent weeks, closed Thursday up 2.7 percent at 115 yen, outperforming a 1.8 percent drop in the Nikkei average.

The troubles at JAL, once a symbol of Japan’s emergence in the global economy, stem from years of mismanagement, as well as a more recent plunge in travel amid the global financial crisis.

JAL’s deep problems also stem from stiff regulations that have forced the airline to service many unprofitable routes within Japan to prop up a network of domestic airports built with government money. Flying to these has been a drain on its resources and profitability.

But JAL can be quickly revived with funds and a robust turnaround plan, said Shinjiro Takagi, the government task force chief.

“Reviving JAL will require a substantial amount of money, including public money,” Mr. Takagi said. “Our conclusion, however, is that JAL can most certainly turn itself around, and in a robust way.”

“There is room for great reform at JAL,” said Kazuhiko Toyama, deputy leader of the task force. “There is still great potential for growth,” he said.

The turnaround body, the E.T.I.C., has a mandate to draw up to 1.6 trillion yen in state-guaranteed funds to assist JAL. The government is also considering enacting a new law that would allow the airline to unilaterally slash its pension benefits.

2009年10月17日 星期六

安全感 而乘务员的微笑起着很大作用

时事风云 | 2009.10.17


日本一家火车公司的职员工作中必须要保持微笑。 为了做到这一点, 该企业每天都要求在工作人员在一个专门的扫描仪前面练习微笑。

这是一个屏幕上带有小型照相机的普通电脑。 但是坐在它面前,要想获得100分满分的人,必须绽放自己的最佳微笑。

"今天早晨我只得了62分.今天乘车上班晚点太多,我当时已经感到有些累了。"这位小姐抱歉地说. 她是东京一家私人铁路运输公司-京浜公司的职员。自今年7月起。公司的所有员工必须每天早晨上班之前坐在电脑前对着照相机练习一下自己的微笑。 这位女公司职员表示:"早上我们一般都有很多事情要做。 当我听说还要增加什么微笑练习时,我很不高兴,认为又增加了一份负担。 对这个活动开始时我很不理解。后来随着参加这个活动我发现,每天早晨微笑后,确实能够保持自己的良好情绪。现在我认为这是一个很好的项目。"

欧姆龙公司制造的微笑扫描仪,目前已经在京浜公司管辖的15个大型火车站投入使用。公司发言人说,公司的所有职员都必须参加这个微笑项目。公司也是 因为考虑到旅客的安全,才决定要求职员参加这个练习的。公司发言人说表示:"铁路公司非常重视乘客的安全感。 而乘务员的微笑起着很大作用。 对此我们坚信不疑。 此外明年羽田机场将成为国际机场。我们正在那里建造一个火车站。因此对于许多外国人来说,京浜铁路列车将是他们在日本享受的第一次铁路服务。 他们上车时肯定会有些不知所措。不清楚应当在哪里下车,在哪里换车,心里会没底。 但是如果我们的乘务员面带微笑,乘客就会感到放心。 我们的微笑会给乘客带去安全感。"

日本堪称服务绿洲。 对顾客的关照真的是无微不至。 而提供微笑服务对于初来乍到,人生地不熟的外国人来说起码能够起到安抚的作用。公司发言人说:"到现在还没有乘客直接同我谈过微笑服务这个话题。 但是我自己感到内心已经发生了变化。我现在很注意我的行为会引起什么反应,并努力让自己在工作中面带微笑。"

作者:Peter Kujath/韩明芳