JAL appoints Onishi as new president and COO

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Japan Airlines (JAL) has appointed long-time executive Masaru Onishi as its new president and COO, and made him responsible for the day-to-day running of the carrier.

Onishi, who will take office from 1 February, joined JAL in 1978. Prior to this appointment, he was president of JAL subsidiaries Japan Air Commuter and an executive officer of Japan Airlines International.

The airline also named Hisao Taguchi as its new executive vice-president. Prior to this, he was responsible for the JAL Group's overall operations in the Kyushu region.

These are the first management appointments since JAL filed for Chapter 11-equivalent bankruptcy last week after asking the government for financial aid. This is its fourth government-led bail-out since 2001, and comes after the carrier posted a fiscal second quarter net loss of ¥32.1 billion ($358 billion), and incurred debts of ¥2.3 trillion.

JAL's board, including president and CEO Haruka Nishimatsu, also resigned last week to take responsibility for the situation. The Japanese government has tapped veteran industrialist Kazuo Inamori to take over as chairman and CEO.

"Under the strong leadership of the Group chairman Kazuo Inamori, and president Masaru Onishi, Japan Airlines will continue to steadfastly provide flight operations of the highest safety and service levels to its customers, and strive towards the rebuilding of the Group," says JAL.

The Japanese government has pledged up to ¥900 billion in funds for JAL. The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation (ETIC) has been tasked with turning JAL around, and it will inject ¥300 billion into the carrier. A separate ¥600 credit line will also be available. Creditors have also agreed to forgive ¥730 billion of the airline's debt.

Under the restructuring plan, JAL will renew its aircraft fleet, slash its workforce and cut unprofitable routes, says the airline.