American Airlines (AA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) have applied for antitrust immunity with the Department of Transportation in the USA – with the hope of “forging a closer business relationship”.
It is hoped eventual acceptance of the proposal will allow the airlines to implement a Joint Business Agreement (JBA), governing the operation of their flights between North America and Asia.
JAL – Japan’s biggest airline, presently in a government-structured bankruptcy restructuring – recently confirmed it would stay with American and its ten partners in the oneworld Alliance.
The iconic Japanese airline had been courted by rival Delta Air Lines and the fellow members of the SkyTeam alliance.
“With immunity to enter a JBA, JAL and AA will be able to cooperate more tightly in raising the quality of our services and thus encourage healthy competition in this promising region for the industry,” explained JAL group chief operating officer Masaru Onishi.
In a statement the airlines also confirmed they will notify the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in Japan of the transaction.
If the antitrust application is successful JAL and AA will cooperate commercially on flights, while continuing to operate as separate legal entities.
The airlines will coordinate fares, services and schedules in order to attract new customers and boost revenues.
“An immunised JBA will benefit the public, offer new competition in the fast-growing Asian aviation marketplace and strengthen the relationship between AA and JAL, which will support JAL’s successful restructuring,” added Gerard Arpey, American’s chairman.
“It will improve customer choice by giving the oneworld Alliance, of which American and JAL are key members, strong hub operations at Tokyo, thus allowing more vibrant competition with other global alliances in northeast Asia and beyond.”
Antitrust immunity between JAL and AA is made possible by the Open Skies accord reached by the United States and Japan in December 2009. When that agreement becomes effective, it will eliminate the current restraints on competition.