As losses on its international services mount, Japan Air System (JAS) is proposing to hand some of its slots at Tokyo's Narita airport to Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). In return JAS would seek codeshares on replacement flights operated by the two majors. This would be first time in memory that Japanese airlines have codeshared with each other on international flights and mark a retreat by JAS from its Asian expansion over the past two years.

JAS operates some 20 weekly flights to Seoul, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Kunming, and Xian. It plans to suspend all flights to Hong Kong and China and concentrate on a twice daily service to Seoul. That would free up 10 daily slots at Narita, where they are always in short supply. JAS is talking with JAL and ANA about allowing them to use those slots, in exchange for codeshare.

Nothing is settled, but JAS appears close to an agreement with JAL that could start in November. Under that plan, JAS would codeshare three times a week on JAL's daily flight to Seoul, and JAL could use its own slots, freed up by that exchange, to add capacity on other busy routes. JAS is discussing a similar deal with ANA that could involve China routes which JAS plans to suspend.

Japanese sources says the agreements require ministry of transport approval, although this would be "a formality". The bigger question is whether JAS will use this tactic only during the winter when traffic slows or if it will gradually retreat from overseas routes through more trade of slots for codeshares.

Source: Airline Business