Northwest Airlines has strengthened its growing international partnership network by concluding an alliance with Japan Air System (JAS). Its partner, KLM, is set to follow by further expanding its own bilateral relationship with the Japanese carrier.

An alliance between JAS and Northwest has been pending since 1996, and was finally given the go-ahead by the new liberalised US-Japan bilateral air services deal.

Northwest and JAS have applied to their regulatory authorities to inaugurate codeshare services from mid-August on JAS domestic routes between Northwest's Osaka Kansai hub to Fukuoka and Okinawa. This will be extended to other domestic Japanese destinations.

By November, Northwest wants to add JAS to its services from Osaka to Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Francisco. Plans also call for the two carriers to codeshare their services between Tokyo and Seoul from early next year.

Under the USA-Japan bilateral, however, JAS will be limited to codesharing with Northwest on beyond fifth freedom routes it already has permission to operate in its own right. Although this will allow joint flights to South Korea, it will prevent JAS from taking advantage of Northwest onward connections elsewhere in Asia.

Following Washington's recently agreed bilateral with China, Northwest plans to advance codeshare services on domestic flights operated by partner Air China from 2003 to next year.

Source: Flight International