Established in 1951, Japan Airlines (JAL) became the official flag carrier two years later, and is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance. In 2009, it suffered steep financial losses despite being Asia’s largest airline by revenue, and cut staff and routes to prune expenses. However, it was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in January 2010, after losses of nearly ¥100 billion in a single quarter. JAL emerged from bankruptcy in March 2011, and in September 2012 JAL shares resumed trading on the Tokyo stock Exchange.
Budget rivals undercut Japan Airline's IPO perk of discounted flights
The rise of budget carriers is undermining a perk for retail investors in Japan Airlines' 663 billion yen (HK$65.4 billion) initial public offering - cheap tickets.
Individual investors, who held 59 per cent of JAL shares before its 2010 bankruptcy and delisting, are being offered discount coupons as the carrier holds the biggest offering worldwide since Facebook.
Such vouchers used to give travellers some of the cheapest tickets in Japan. Now, they can be undercut by low-cost airlines, such as Jetstar Japan and AirAsia Japan, which advertise fares at a third of JAL's prices.
"I have absolutely no interest in buying JAL stock again," said Takashi Uema, 59, who used shareholder vouchers before the Tokyo-based carrier's bankruptcy, which wiped out his investment. He was waiting at the city's Narita airport for an AirAsia flight, which was "even cheaper than using a discount coupon".
Retail investors may also be deterred because JAL is offering a less generous voucher package than larger rival All Nippon Airways, said Ryota Himeno, an analyst at Barclays. JAL is relisting following a government-backed turnaround that has sparked complaints from opposition politicians about tax breaks.
"It's proving a difficult sell to individual investors," Himeno said. "JAL's discount coupon deal isn't as good as ANA's, and there are political risks."
The JAL vouchers will give holders a 50 per cent discount on a domestic economy-class flight. Investors will get one coupon a year for every 100 shares they own, up to 1,000. After that, the number of shares needed for extra coupons increases.
Investors will need to spend 379,000 yen on JAL stock to get a voucher, based on the 100-share minimum and the indicative 3,790 yen IPO price.
The carrier's offering is scheduled for September 19.