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Business & Finance

AirAsia X shows court creditors' support for restructuring plan

  • The airline is seeking to restructure 64.15 billion ringgit of debt. Its accrued debt amounts to 2.24 billion ringgit, without taking into consideration contingent debts such as its large aircraft order book with Airbus.
Published January 15, 2021
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KUALA LUMPUR: Most of AirAsia X Bhd's (AAX) lessors support a restructuring plan, and the Malaysian airline has received interest from potential investors for fundraising after reorganization, court documents filed this month show.

In emails attached to the court filings, supportive lessors said they wanted to continue discussions with the budget airline and potential new investors, seeking more equitable terms and new commercial arrangements.

The affidavits come after more than a dozen creditors filed to intervene with its proposed court-supervised restructuring, with lessor BOC Aviation Ltd and airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd arguing that AAX is "hopelessly insolvent".

Planemaker Airbus SE also filed an affidavit last month saying it could lose more than $5 billion worth of aircraft orders if the low-cost, long-haul carrier proceeded with the plan.

AAX's senior legal counsel, Shereen Ee, said in court documents seen by Reuters that 15 out of 20 aircraft lessors were not in favour of AAX liquidating, while Rolls-Royce Group and interveners - Airbus, and BNP Paribas - were "not objecting" to the restructuring plan.

Lessors in favour of a restructuring include Macquarie Aircraft Leasing Services and Aircastle, according to the documents.

Aircastle did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Macquarie, Rolls-Royce and AAX declined to comment.

An Airbus spokesman also declined to comment, saying that the company was continuing discussions but that the details are confidential.

BNP Paribas - which is a trustee acting on creditors' instructions - declined to comment.

Aircastle Asia Pacific executive vice president Nigel Harwood told AAX in an email that his firm was not seeking liquidation of the airline, according to the court filings.

"We look forward to working with you to arrive at revised commercial arrangements once we understand your future business plan with the introduction of new investors," he said.

Macquarie's email said it was willing to support a recapitalised AAX and make a restructured lease agreement on condition that the airline has a detailed business plan, credible third-party investors and that lessors have a meaningful say, according to the filings.

"Most of the lessors are not in favour of liquidation because they can't place AAX's planes in the current conditions, so best settle for crumbs. BOC Aviation is savvier and smarter than the competition, that's why it won't budge," Shukor Yusof, who heads Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics said, adding that he doubted Airbus would let AAX off easily.

AAX said it had received 10 letters from Malaysian and Singaporean corporations and high net worth individuals indicating interest to participate in its proposed fundraising exercise, according to an affidavit.

The 10 include Tune Group Sdn Bhd, owned by AirAsia Group Bhd co-founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun. Tune is the largest AAX shareholder, with a 17.83% stake.

AAX said it also received interest from a public-listed financial group and the subsidiary of another, both preferring to be unnamed.

AAX, an affiliate of AirAsia Group, last month said it planned to raise up to 200 million ringgit ($49.49 million) by issuing shares to new investors after its debt restructuring.

The airline is seeking to restructure 64.15 billion ringgit of debt. Its accrued debt amounts to 2.24 billion ringgit, without taking into consideration contingent debts such as its large aircraft order book with Airbus.

Some lessors have argued the Airbus orders should be excluded. However, AAX said the contingent debts must be dealt with and will be reduced by the re-negotiated leases and other commercial contracts.

AAX estimated that lessors that continue with the airline post-restructuring would be able to recover approximately 44-66% of their lease rental loss under new agreements.

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