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JAL open to mutually beneficial partnerships

Japan Airlines (JAL) is willing to partner with various carriers — both independent and from rival alliances — on the condition that it is mutually beneficial to the parties involved.

Speaking to FlightGlobal at the recent Association of Asia Pacific Airlines assembly of presidents in Taipei, JAL's executive officer for international relations and alliances Hideki Oshima is of the opinion that bilateral relationships with other airlines are just as important as those with alliance partners.

He cited codeshare partnerships with SkyTeam carriers AeroMexico, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Korean Air as an example of how airlines from different alliances can work together.

Japan Airlines, meanwhile, is a member of the Oneworld alliance.

"If it does not hurt any of the [Oneworld] alliance members, we can do anything. I don't have to tell other members," notes Oshima.

Asked about benefits that JAL could gain from partnering with non-Oneworld carriers, he specified the ability to feed passengers onto each other's networks.

"We're sending more passengers to those airlines, to help them, and of course that's a good thing for revenue and frequencies to those countries. We cannot coordinate with schedules, but we're sending more passengers to those partners."

Oshima also expressed his doubts on the possibility of JAL forming joint ventures with Asian carriers, having secured partners in Europe and North America, saying that studies are still being made. He also ruled out the likelihood of partnering with low-cost carriers, other than to codeshare on select short-haul flights operated by low-cost affiliate Jetstar Japan.

In the case of VietJet Air, however, JAL has a codeshare relationship. Oshima stresses that the relationship only covers codeshares for the Vietnamese low-cost carrier's premium offerings for business travelers, and only on a small number of flights.

He adds: "For Jetstar Japan, they help to support our domestic network where we reduced frequencies from Tokyo Narita, and [in return] they put theirs on domestic Japan destinations. That helped JAL, and that is why we put our code on Jetstar Japan."

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