Japan Airlines and American talk about alliance

The heads of American Airlines and Japan Airlines said Tuesday that their alliance will give travelers cheaper fares, more routes and easier connections on flights across the Pacific.

U.S. and Japanese regulators approved the strengthened alliance late last year, after the two nations signed an "open skies" deal for air travel. American Airlines and Japan Airlines have cooperated for the past 15 years.

"Together, we will be stronger and more competitive," American Airlines President Thomas Horton said as he and Masaru Onishi, his counterpart at Japan Airlines, met with reporters.

Bringing their operations closer will result in a combined sales boost and cost savings of 13 billion yen ($156 million) Onishi said, while refusing to give details of how revenue will be shared by the two carriers.

Both sides said they hoped to make Chicago a major hub for JAL flights under the arrangement with American. The number of flights between Tokyo’s Narita airport and Chicago that can connect to other U.S. destinations within three hours of arrival in Chicago will rise from 43 to 45, they said.

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JAL in the Crossfire between Delta and American

Delta Air Lines and its alliance partners offered $1 billion in aid to Japan Airlines on Wednesday, a proposal that American Airlines quickly said it would top as the world’s biggest airlines escalated a war for influence over the ailing Japanese carrier.

Delta Airlines’ president, Edward Bastian, said Delta and other airlines in the SkyTeam alliance were ready to offer JAL generous aid.

Though saddled with debt, Japan Airlines is attractive to both American and Delta because of its strong place in the tricky Japanese market and in the rest of Asia. United States airlines have also been looking to shore up their global alliances, both as a growth strategy and as a defensive step after mergers in the industry.

Delta and American, however, are also engaged in a delicate balancing act. Too aggressive an overture toward JAL, they fear, could give the Japanese government reason to try to rescue its once-proud flagship carrier without foreign assistance.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, the president of Delta, Edward Bastian, said the carrier and other members of the SkyTeam alliance were ready to offer JAL an aid package worth $1 billion if it would defect from a rival alliance, American Airlines’ Oneworld.

Photo by mikecogh