US and Japan are reportedly set to sign their Open Skies Agreement today (25-Oct-2010) (Bloomberg, 23-Oct-2010). The agreement will end limits on how many carriers can operate between the two countries and what prices they can charge. The US gave preliminary antitrust approval earlier this month, subject to the agreement being signed. Last week, MLITT granted antitrust immunity for JAL and American Airlines and ANA and United Continental Holding to cooperate with codeshare partners on US services.
US and Japan to sign open skies agreement on 25-Oct-2010
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Asia aviation outlook: high demand, low fuel, but overcapacity and uncertainty (Brexit) hurt profits
Asian aviation should be experiencing boom times. So why isn't it? The region is unique for alignment of three key factors: low fuel, high demand and geopolitical stability. Yet financially the market is subdued, largely the result of overcapacity at most airlines. There are some special features too: Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines' benefit from low fuel prices has been muted by to hedging, currency swings have hurt the financials of Chinese and Korean airlines.
Strategically most airlines in Asia remain confident of long term opportunities but identify short term challenges, starting with overcapacity. The region's growth is above the IATA average, but financial performance is below. Airlines are watching Europe to see if demand has plateaued or will further weaken due to security concerns. Freight – especially important at Northeast Asian airlines – is facing its usual challenges. New consumer electronics – iPhone 7, for example – may deliver a short-term boost, but will not be as high or profitable as it used to be. The collapse of Hanjin container shipping might deliver some relief, but not on the scale of the 2015 US port closure.
US DOT rejects Qantas-American Airlines joint venture under pressure of unchecked consolidation
After complaints about airlines amassing power through joint ventures to the detriment of consumers, the US DOT appears to be exerting greater and more conservative scrutiny on partnerships. DOT has rejected a proposed JV between American Airlines and Qantas. After DOT declined their request for a much longer response time American and Qantas withdrew their application, submitted in Jun-2015.
At a top level the JV does seem to raise concern: combined, Qantas and American would hold 59% of the US-Australia market. Yet almost all of that – 53% – is from Qantas; American adds only 6ppt.
DOT rejects the notion that such larger market share can possibly be in the interest of consumers. Yet it appears to overlook the benefit American might bring in exchange for incremental market share gains. Nor is it clear if this combination is more anti-competitive than some JVs where two airlines, each with a small- or medium-sized position, combine and become multiples larger. Qantas' 53% market share was earned through quality and smart loyalty programme development while competitors lagged.
Qantas will continue growth in North America, its most successful international market, but American Airlines' growth is uncertain and it may re-evaluate a supposedly planned Los Angeles-Melbourne 787 service.