AS US AND JAPANESE negotiators last month thrashed out the final details of a bilateral OpenSkies pact, American Airlines emerged as the likely saviour of fast-failing Japan Airlines. A new trans-Pacific agreement could be the precursor to the granting of antitrust immunity, which would allow American to coordinate its schedules, operations, routes, seat inventories and fares with JAL's, and to enter joint ventures.
Backed by its partners in the oneworld alliance - of which JAL is a member - and by US investment giant Texas Pacific Group (TPG), American Airlines has said it will pump up to US$1.1 billion into JAL, with additional funds taking the total closer to US$1.8 billion.
Theo Panagiotoulias, AA's Asia/Pacific vice-president, said: "American Airlines is looking for opportunities to expand our services to and through Japan, which underscores the importance of JAL's role [in oneworld].
A joint venture with JAL, with whom we've had a 15-year relationship, would allow us to do that."