Japan Air Bankruptcy Fears Sink Shares - TheStreet

Updated from 2:17 a.m. EST

TOKYO (

TheStreet

) -- Shares of

Japan Airlines

plunged Wednesday to a record low on reports the struggling airline, its major lenders and a quasigovernmental investment fund, are studying a bankruptcy-protection filing in case JAL doesn't win pension concessions from retirees.

Japan Airlines, Asia's biggest airline, closed Wednesday at 67 yen, down 24%; earlier in the day it fell 32% to 60 yen. The stock closed at 213 yen at the beginning of 2009.

Japan Airlines was still considering an out-of-court restructuring, the

Wall Street Journal

reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. However, a court-led turnaround is likely to add pressure on the company's retirees to accept a proposed cut in their pension allowances. The airline is trying to convince its 8,800 retirees to accept a benefits-reduction plan.

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Report

and

AMR Corp.'s

(AMR)

American Airlines are closely watching developments of JAL's restructuring process as the U.S. airlines are interested in partnering with JAL to gain access to its lucrative network of flights to Asia.

Meanwhile, Japan's

Nikkei

newspaper reports Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan, a government-backed turnaround fund, plans to guarantee JAL's fuel costs and spare parts if the airline enters bankruptcy.