* Deal would boost Delta’s access to Tokyo via Skymark stake
* Any deal for Skymark must first be approved by creditors
* Intrepid Aviation wants Delta deal as alternative to ANA bailout-sources (Changes attribution to people with knowledge of the matter, adds details)
TOKYO/NEW YORK, July 14 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc has offered to invest in Japan’s bankrupt Skymark Airlines Inc as part of a restructuring plan for the budget carrier, two people familiar with the proposal said.
The move has the potential to increase competition in Japan by allowing Delta to funnel international travelers via Tokyo to more Japanese cities that Skymark serves. A deal would give Delta a roughly 20-percent stake, although terms must still be concluded and approved by Skymark’s creditors, according an earlier report by Nikkei Asian Review.
Skymark’s biggest creditor Intrepid Aviation Ltd wants to propose Delta as a sponsor to other debt holders on Wednesday, as an alternative to a revival plan already on offer that would see Japan’s biggest carrier, ANA Holdings, sponsor the failed low-cost carrier, the sources said.
The people declined to be named due to the confidentiality of the matter. Creditor approval is key for any Skymark restructuring plan to go ahead.
A Delta spokeswoman said, “It would be premature for us to comment on the matter.” Delta’s President Ed Bastian said last month that the Atlanta-based airline had been approached about making the investment.
“We are unaware of the proposal and are not in a position to comment,” a spokeswoman for Skymark said. Intrepid declined to comment.
Skymark holds many landing slots at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which connects to cities throughout Japan and which many travelers prefer to Narita International Airport because it is closer to Tokyo’s downtown. Skymark’s slots are for domestic routes only.
If the deal succeeds, Delta could attempt to build Haneda 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.
Rival U.S. carrier United Continental Holdings Inc has an alliance with ANA and rival American Airlines Group Inc has an alliance with Japan Airlines Co Ltd.
After Intrepid, planemaker Airbus Group SE is the biggest creditors to Skymark, which ran into financial trouble after embarking on an ambitious expansion that included buying Airbus A380 jumbo jets.
Reporting by Maki Shiraki in Tokyo and Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Diane Craft and Miral Fahmy