U.S., Japan Reach Agreement on Open Skies

japan flightsA landmark Open Skies aviation agreement, liberalizing U.S.-Japan air services for the carriers of both countries was announced by Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood. The agreement was reached after five rounds of negotiations focusing on Open Skies, beginning in May of this year. The agreement could also impact the fate of Japan Airlines who is being sought as an alliance partner by both Delta and American.

“Achieving Open Skies with Japan, a major U.S. transportation and trade partner, has been a long-standing U.S. goal and is good news for air travelers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific,” said Secretary LaHood. “Once this agreement takes effect, American and Japanese consumers, airlines and economies will enjoy the benefits of competitive pricing and more convenient service.”

Under the new agreement, airlines from both countries would be allowed to select routes and destinations based on consumer demand for both passenger and cargo services, without limitations on the number of U.S. or Japanese carriers that can fly between the two countries or the number of flights they can operate. It would remove restrictions on capacity and pricing, and provide unlimited opportunities for cooperative marketing arrangements, including code-sharing, between U.S. and Japanese carriers.

The agreement also would provide opportunities for growth of U.S. carrier operations at Tokyo’s Narita Airport and ensure fair competition regarding the new opportunities at Tokyo’s close-in Haneda Airport.

Although the 1952 U.S.-Japan aviation agreement was greatly expanded in 1998, many U.S. carriers serving Japan were still subject to restrictions on capacity, routing, pricing, and code-sharing.

Once the agreement is finalized, Japan will become the 95th U.S. Open Skies partner. Both the United States and Japan must affirmatively act in order to put the agreement into effect, the DOT said.

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