Wednesday, December 2, 2009

U.S./Japan Open Skies Coming Soon?

After failing to secure an open skies deal at the end of October, see "No Japan/U.S. Open Skies?," there is news out that both sides believe a deal will be reached by the end of the year.  See Ann Keeton, US-Japan Aviation Pact Ready By Year-End, Dow Jones Newswire, Dec. 1, 2009 (available here).  This would certainly be good news for the airline alliances, all of which are seeking to fully integrate with Japan's international carriers.  Presumably, ANA, which has a standing relationship with United Airlines, will apply for antitrust immunity to deepen its participation in the Star Alliance.  The future of JAL remains uncertain.  Both Americna Airlines and Delta Air Lines are trying to court Japan's financially fragile carrier into their respective alliances with promises of capital infusions and substantial profits from an alliance arrangement. 

As discussed previously on the blog, the last round of U.S./Japan open skies negotiations revealed Japan's sdesire to limit U.S. airline access to slots at Tokyo's airports.  Slot restrictions go directly against the liberal open gateway policy of the open skies template.  Is the U.S. willing to pass this matter by in the hopes of securing a more liberal arrangement with Japan than what currently stands?

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