ANA has inked a commercial partnership agreement with Virgin Australia, a new entrant to the Australia-Japan sector.

From 30 January, ANA will place its code on six domestic routes operated by Virgin, from Sydney to Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns, Canberra, Gold Coast and Adelaide.

The partners expect to announce more codeshare routes later in spring 2020.

“This collaborative effort will allow us to meet growing passenger demand in the region by providing greater choice and flexibility through shared resources, and furthering ANA’s commitment to expanding the Japan-Australia network,” says ANA executive vice-president, Shuichi Fujimura.

Virgin is entering the sector with a Brisbane-Tokyo Haneda service starting 29 March, using Airbus A330-200s redeployed from Melbourne-Hong Kong.

Its Haneda slot was one of two daily slots recently made available to Australian carriers.

Compatriot Qantas, which was operating Haneda-Sydney, canvassed for both slots, but Virgin argued that awarding it the slot would bring significant competition to the Australia-Japan market.

Qantas will utilise its allocation to switch its Melbourne-Tokyo service from Narita to Haneda, also starting 29 March.

Meanwhile, Japanese carriers also have plans to increase capacity on the Australia-Japan market.

Cirium schedules data shows that ANA launched a Narita-Perth service last September, flown on Boeing 787-8s. The carrier will increase the frequency on Haneda-Sydney this summer, currently operated with 787-9s. Japan Airlines will also begin flying Haneda-Sydney with 787-9s from March onwards.