The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has granted anti-trust immunity for the joint business planned by Japan Airlines (JAL) and International Airlines Group (IAG).
On May 25, the MLIT formally approved the application submitted by Japan Airlines in February, seeking anti-trust immunity to cooperate with British Airways on flights between the EU and Japan.
According to JAL, in Europe, the regulatory landscape is one of self-assessment and the Japanese carrier says IAG and JAL have kept the European Commission informed of their planned joint business.
Since the planned JAL-IAG joint business does not need formal approval from the EU authorities, the anti-trust immunity they have received from the Japanese government should be all the regulatory approval required for the partners to launch the business.
The partners expect to launch their joint business by late March 2013. They claim the joint business will benefit customers by providing better links between the EU and Japan, more choice, enhanced frequent-flyer benefits and the potential to launch new routes.
However, the partners have not said what the effect of the joint business will be on fares on their shared routes between Japan and Europe.
At present, JAL flies daily from Narita International Airport to London Heathrow Airport, Frankfurt Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle. It also has a daily service from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
British Airways currently has a daily service from London Heathrow Airport to Tokyo Narita and five flights per week from Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda.
According to JAL, the revenue-sharing agreement with IAG will strengthen the oneworld alliance (of which Japan Airlines and IAG’s subsidiaries British Airways and Iberia are members) and will enable it to compete more effectively around the world with other global alliances.
“We would like to thank the Ministry for approving our application for ATI with IAG,” said Yoshiharu Ueki, president of JAL. “Amid the evolving Japanese aviation industry, the ATI will enable us to build a strong value-creating relationship with British Airways that can benefit our customers as well as our businesses.”
“British Airways has been flying to Japan for more than 60 years and this new agreement will strengthen our ties to the world’s third largest economy and further enhance our relationship with JAL,” remarked Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive.