Japan Airlines is eyeing areas of further co-operation with Malaysia Airlines, which could include a potential investment in its struggling Oneworld partner.
The two carriers recently signed a memorandum of understanding and have applied for regulatory clearance to establish a joint venture on Japan-Malaysia routes, but JAL president Yuji Akasaka says that he expects that to expand further.
“In addition to the general JV agreement we expect there will be an expanded partnership beyond the scope of a regular JV agreement that we [will] have with Malaysia Airlines,” he says at the sidelines of the IATA AGM.
Akasaka adds that could include collaborating on safety and corporate recovery, as well as expanding the joint venture in the future to cover routes beyond Japan to the USA, and from Malaysia to other routes in Asia.
But he also hinted that an investment in Malaysia Airlines could be considered, although it appears that will be evaluated at a later time.
“In terms of any investment, that is still under review and there is nothing to announce at this point, but there are some discussions that we can conduct going forward," he says.
Akasaka also notes that Malaysia Airlines’ recovery programme bears some similarities to its 2010 bankruptcy and subsequent restructuring.
“We believe that what Malaysia Airlines is going through now is somewhat similar to what Japan Airlines went through in terms of bankruptcy, and how we are going to recover that situation, so we believe there are some similarities between the two companies and therefore we believe we can help each other out.”
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has previously said that the government was considering an array of options for its national carrier, including potentially shutting it down.
Despite that threat, Asakasa says that it has faith in the long-term future of its Oneworld partner carrier. "We believe there is a lot of opportunity for Malaysia Airlines going forward."