A new joint-venture agreement between Japan Airlines and China Eastern Airlines is in the works, with the two carriers signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) today with the aim of pursuing a joint-business partnership some time in the 2019 financial year.
According to a statement from the airlines, the agreement would seek to encompass Japan Airlines’ domestic network of more than 50 cities and China Eastern’s domestic network comprising more than 80 destinations.
A formal application has yet to be filed with the relevant authorities, though this is set to take place once the carriers review regulatory conditions.
So what could such an agreement mean for travellers?
Japan Airlines and China Airlines have been codesharing on select routes since 2002, and the joint partnership would aim to expand on this.
One likely result would be enhanced coordination on flight scheduling aimed at making flight connections between the two carriers better aligned. Joint ventures also often include expanded miles earning and redemption possibilities and broader access to each airlines’ lounges.
Airlines also are keen to highlight the potential for a greater variety of fares and flights due to better competition in relevant markets, providing more choice for passengers in terms of availability and cost.
Other benefits could even include the launching of new routes that would otherwise not be viable unless supported by flights operated by the other carrier.
These two airlines are also notably members of rival airline alliances. Japan Airlines is a member of Oneworld (which doesn’t have a mainland Chinese member carrier) while China Eastern is a member of Skyteam (which doesn’t have a Japanese member airline). A joint-business partnership would therefore give both airlines, and passengers, greater access to these markets.
That being said, the greatest benefactors of a joint-venture agreement are the airlines themselves, since carriers share revenue on flights that fall under a joint venture regardless of which airline is operating them.
“We are delighted to announce that China Eastern and Japan Airlines plan to broaden our partnership in each market,” said Japan Airlines chairman, Yoshiharu Ueki. “We look to bring more benefits, more choices and more value to our customers.
“We believe this partnership will generate more passenger traffic between the two countries and open up commercial opportunities.”