Japan Airlines (JAL) has delayed the start of its planned code-share partnership with American Airlines and is putting on hold any consideration of joining a wider global alliance until its bilateral arrangement with the US carrier is implemented.

The Japanese airline had intended in early September to announce details on the first of a five-phase planned code-share tie-up extending across 366 international, regional and domestic routes. "The target date had been October, but because the complexity of the arrangement is greater than anticipated, this will now slip into the new year," says the carrier.

The delay has been blamed primarily on difficulties in integrating the two carriers' passenger information systems and automated boarding passes. The postponement puts back the start of joint services by almost 12 months - the deal was announced in February this year.

Phase one will encompass joint services on 12 transpacific, seven domestic Japanese and two intra-Asian routes. These will increase to 84 routes during the second phase, which is targeted for April 1999, and eventually to 366 routes when it is fully implemented.

JAL has indicated that it will put off any decision on joining a global alliance until matters with American are settled. The recently announced oneworld alliance is widely viewed as JAL's most logical choice. It already co-operates bilaterally on passenger services with three of the five alliance members, American Airlines, Canadian Airlines and Qantas, and on cargo with a fourth, British Airways.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has also been forced to delay the start of code-share services with its new partner, Lufthansa. Under a deal signed in April, joint services between Tokyo and Frankfurt had been due to start on 1 July, but have been repeatedly held up by Germany and Russia failing to agree on overflight charges.

ANA plans to begin code-share flights from 25 October with its other new international partner, United Airlines. The Japanese carrier's agreement with United and Lufthansa is regarded as the initial step to it becoming a full member of oneworld competitor Star Alliance. On the same date, ANA will begin interline co-operation with Emirates on selected services between Tokyo, Osaka and Dubai.

Source: Flight International