Japan Air System (JAS) is in codeshare talks with Northwest Airlines, and its ally KLM, which could lead to the formation of a new alliance competing with Star and oneworld.

In a separate move, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has agreed a tie-up with Northwest, prompting speculation that it could become part of a wider alliance.

JAS says it is in negotiations to build on its existing frequent flyer programme co-operation with the two carriers, and is in early discussions about a broader, multilateral alliance. "We are now talking about whether to start an alliance or not, but this will not happen in the near future," it says.

The Northwest/KLM-based global alliance, tentatively named Wings, could also include Continental Airlines, Air China, Air France and Alitalia.

All the "Big Three" Japanese carriers are now gravitating towards global alliances, with All Nippon Airways set to join the Star Alliance in October, and Japan Airlines establishing codeshare links to the key oneworld partners, while pondering whether to become a full alliance member.

Northwest's signing of a memorandum of understanding with MAS, designed to lead to an operational and marketing alliance, indicates it could eventually become a Wings member. MAS already has a codeshare arrangement with KLM.

Source: Flight International