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Japan s ANA to consider public aid

TOKYO, Feb 25 – Japan\’s second-largest carrier All Nippon Airways, facing its first annual loss in six years, said Wednesday that it may apply for public loans to bolster its finances.

ANA is considering requesting loans from various lenders including the state-backed Development Bank of Japan, company spokesman Yoshifumi Miyake said.

"Fund-raising is extremely important for us," he said.

The company is also preparing for the 2010 expansion of Tokyo\’s two major airports, which could bring increased competition with other carriers.

"We believe investing in infrastructure is an important factor for our growth strategy," Miyake said.

ANA is forecasting a net loss of nine billion yen (93 million dollars) for the year to March as business travellers put off trips to North America and Europe and tourists stay at home.

Japan last month unveiled plans to channel funds to cash-strapped companies through state-backed lenders such as the Development Bank in a scheme that could reportedly amount to 1.5 trillion yen.

Local media said that ANA is considering asking for several tens of billions of yen (several hundred million dollars) and has already notified the transport ministry.

Tokyo has agreed to offer an aid package for the aviation sector and Japan Airlines, Asia\’s biggest carrier, is reportedly considering asking for a 200-billion-yen loan to weather the crisis.

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"The aviation industry is in a severe slump and so it is important to inject capital" into firms, said a transport ministry spokesman who declined to be named.

He said ANA had not yet informed the ministry that it was considering applying for state aid.

JAL and ANA are suspending or reducing flights and switching to smaller planes in their efforts to ride out the worldwide slump.

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