JAL Bankruptcy Filing Sets Off Reorganization, State-Led Bailout
Japan Airlines, the once-mighty flagship carrier and Asia’s biggest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, setting the stage for a state-led bailout that could bring sweeping changes to this corner of the global aviation market.
JAL has been crippled by years of mismanagement and more than $25 billion in debt, and its application for protection signals the country’s largest corporate failure outside the financial sector. Though JAL planes will keep flying, because of a bailout of 600 billion yen, or $6.6 billion, the company’s humbling is a reminder of how some of postwar Japan’s most prominent corporations have failed to keep up with shifts in the world economy.
“Today marks a new starting line — JAL lives on,” the transport minister, Seiji Maehara, said after the carrier entered a court-led reorganization. Kazuo Inamori, founder of the electronics company Kyocera and a top management guru in Japan, has been tapped as JAL’s chief executive, succeeding Haruka Nishimatsu, who resigned.
The bankruptcy case, coupled with a new Open Skies agreement between the United States and Japan, could herald an opening of Japan’s rigid aviation sector, which is dominated by JAL and its rival, All Nippon Airlines.
Glassmaking Thrives Offshore, Declines in U.S.
The majestic steel beams of a soaring office tower beginning to rise from the ruins of the World Trade Center are a tribute to American resilience, but also a marker in the decline of yet another industry. Not an inch of imported glass went into the two lost towers, built 40 years ago. The lower floors of the new one will soon be sheathed in Chinese glass.
The decline of glassmaking in America started gradually in the 1990s and accelerated during the Great Recession. What’s more, the big companies, like Corning and Guardian Industries, say that even as the economy improves, they are unlikely to bring domestic employment and production back to pre-recession levels. Imports, for one thing, inhibit sales. And bigger profits lie abroad, so they are channeling investment and expansion to their overseas factories.
“Those who are looking through the rearview mirror, waiting for the glass industry in this country to come back, should know it isn’t going to come back, not the way it was,” Russell J. Ebeid, Guardian’s chairman, said in an interview.
Some are pressing the Obama administration to offer protection for the nation’s glassworkers by raising existing tariffs on imported glass, particularly from China, as is happening on steel and tires. That action or something similar is supported by the United Steelworkers and also by many of the small manufacturers that operate more than 300 factories in the United States.
For Xbox, Focus Shifts
From Game to Video
Executives at Microsoft are fond of saying that its subscription gaming service, Xbox Live, should be thought of as a cable channel.
They want the Internet-connected Xbox to be seen not merely as a gaming machine for teenagers, but as a media portal for parents and grandparents, too. The company is even producing shows for users: it is in the middle of the second season of “1 vs. 100,” an interactive version of a game show that was on NBC.
The content ambitions do not end there. Microsoft has held in-depth talks with Walt Disney Co. about a programming deal with ESPN, according to people close to the talks, who requested anonymity because the talks were intended to be private.
For a subscriber fee, ESPN could provide live streams of sporting events, similar to those from ESPN 360, a service available from some high-speed Internet providers. Microsoft could also create some interactive games with ESPN, the people said. One of the people said the deal was not imminent.
The companies declined to comment.
U.S. Troops Arrive in Haiti, Filling Void Left by Quake
U.S. military helicopters landed on Tuesday at Haiti’s wrecked National Palace, and troops began patrolling the capital’s battered streets, signs of the growing international relief operation here. But the troops’ presence underscored the rising complaints that the Haitian government has all but disappeared in the week since a huge earthquake struck.
Haiti’s long history of foreign intervention, including an U.S. occupation, normally makes the influx of foreigners a delicate issue. But with the government of President Rene Preval largely out of public view and the needs so huge, many Haitians are shunting aside their concerns about sovereignty and welcoming anybody willing to help — in camouflage or not.
“It is not ideal to have a foreign army here but look at the situation,” said Enide Edoword, 24, a waitress who was standing in a camp of displaced people. “We are living amid filth and hunger and thirst after a catastrophe.”
When Preval asked a meeting of religious and business leaders on Saturday whether they supported the intervention of the U.S. Marines, the response came with a caveat.
“They said, ‘Yes — as long as it’s temporary,’ ” said Bishop Jean-Zache Duracin of Haiti’s Episcopal Church, who attended the meeting. “We have no choice because the government has collapsed.”
At the international airport, where the U.S. Air Force now controls incoming and departing planes, Haitian officials are on hand and insist that it is still theirs, even if it more resembles a military base.