American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) have agreed to codeshare on services between the USA and Japan and other key routes beyond their respective gateways.

The strategic alliance, which has been on the stocks for some time, was triggered by the recent US/Japan open skies agreement.

The codeshare needs approval by the US Transportation Department and Japan's Ministry of Transport, but no barriers appear to stand in the way. The deal is expected to lead to a wider alliance, possibly including British Airways if its tie-up with American is approved.

Today, American serves Tokyo from Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle and San Jose. It will begin Chicago-Tokyo services on 1 May and is seeking authority for New York-Tokyo, Boston-Tokyo and Dallas/ Fort Worth-Osaka routes. JAL serves the USA from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Sendai. Its gateways in the USA include Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, Kona, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Anchorage, Guam and Saipan.

The new aviation pact between Japan and the USA is expected to spur other codeshares.

Northwest Airlines, which plans a partnership with Continental Airlines, has initiated talks with Japan Air System (JAS). United Airlines and Lufthansa - key participants in the six-airline Star alliance - are courting All Nippon Airways.

The pact allows US carriers to codeshare among themselves to Japan, but a deal involving US Airways, United and American fell apart after US Airways pilots blocked the planned codeshare service.

Source: Flight International