Shares of Japan Airlines Corp <9205.T> jumped 4 percent on Wednesday after the struggling carrier said most of its retirees were willing to accept cuts to pension payouts.
JAL needs two-thirds of 8,800 retirees and two-thirds of 17,000 employees to agree to pension reductions -- a prerequisite for it to receive a government bailout.
The debt-laden carrier said on Tuesday that 5,700 retirees had said in a company survey that they were willing to accept proposed cuts to pension payouts, falling just short of the required numbers.
It may gain the two-thirds majority it needs if some of the 1,200 retirees who did not respond end up agreeing to the cuts.
I was surprised to see the survey result as I didn't expect this many retirees would indicate their willingness (to accept cuts), said Ryouta Himeno, transport analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.
It looks like JAL could secure formal approval from its retirees, which could really help in the company's turnaround, he added.
The airline will ask retirees and employees to give their formal consent to an average 40 percent cut to their pension payouts by the end of January.
JAL also said that 90 percent of its employees had responded in the survey that they understood the need for pension cuts.
The carrier has warned it could face bankruptcy unless it addresses a pension shortfall of about 330 billion yen ($3.7 billion).
If JAL and its employees and retirees cannot come to an agreement, the government has said it would consider crafting legislation to forcibly implement cuts.
In addition to a potential state bailout, the airline is likely to get funds from foreign carriers eager to gain access to JAL's network to fast-growing Asian markets.
American Airlines has said it and other members of the Oneworld alliance along with private equity fund TPG are willing to invest $1.1 billion in JAL to keep it from defecting to Delta Air Lines
Delta has said it and other SkyTeam members are ready to offer JAL a total financial aid package of about $1 billion, including a $500 million equity investment.
Shares of JAL were up 4 percent at 104 yen, outperforming the benchmark Nikkei average <.N225>, which rose 0.8 percent.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Joseph Radford)