26-Oct-2010 8:53 AM

Japan and US sign open skies MoU; welcomed by airlines

Japan and the US formally signed (25-Oct-2010) an open skies MoU on 25-Oct-2010 moving the process a step towards establishing full open skies between the countries. ANA, JAL, United Continental Holdings and American Airlines welcomed the move. JAL and American Airlines and ANA and United Continental Holdings plan to collaborate on scheduling and sales with antitrust approval granted by Japan last week. The US earlier this month granted preliminary immunity subject to final approval after a 21-day comment period. The agreement is the first major change of a 1952 aviation agreement between the US and Japan since 1998. The two countries signed a draft open skies treaty in Dec-2009. Restrictions eliminated under the accord include a restriction permitting only three US carriers – Delta, United and FedEx Corp – to serve all Japanese markets with unlimited frequency. Hawaiian Holdings, United Parcel Service and US Airways Group are among other US carriers that no longer face flight restrictions under the agreement (Bloomberg, 25-Oct-2010).[more - ANA] [more - American Airlines/JAL] [more - United Continental]

United Continental: “The open skies agreement will fully liberalise this important aviation market, allowing for new air services between the two countries and enabling consumers to benefit from greater choices and competition. With this critical milestone reached, we look forward to receiving final approval from the US Department of Transportation granting antitrust immunity to United, Continental and our partner ANA to implement our trans-Pacific joint venture. Early in 2011, we expect to be able to coordinate our planning and marketing activities, offering customers improved schedules and greater access to fare and service options," Company Statement, 25-Oct-2010.

American Airlines/Japan Airlines: "We applaud the efforts taken by the governments of Japan and the United States in signing the Memorandum of Understanding that moves the process yet another step toward establishing full open skies between our countries. By signing this MoU, the governments are clearing the way for flights to begin operating between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and the US, which is terrific news for our employees, customers and investors and for the people of both nations. Full open skies, which is expected in coming weeks after an official signing ceremony, will be the result of a multi-stage process that began more than a year ago. We believe officials in both governments should be commended for their diligence, hard work and foresight in setting out the framework that will bode well for the future of aviation between Japan and the United States," Company Statement, 25-Oct-2010.

ANA: “ANA welcomes the open skies agreement signed between Japan and the United States and is deeply appreciative of the hard work and ongoing commitment of all the individuals who have played a part in reaching today’s historic signing. The open skies agreement will transform the marketplace and ANA is confident that our planned joint venture with United and Continental will ensure stable long-term growth by providing our valuable customers more travel options and enhanced services,” Shinichiro Ito, President & CEO. Source: Company Statement, 25-Oct-2010.

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