Japan and U.S. Liberalize Aviation with Signing of Open Skies Agreement

Japan and U.S. Liberalize Aviation with Signing of Open Skies Agreement

Haneda's New International Terminal

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On October 25, Japan and the United States signed an Open Skies agreement allowing for "liberalization" of the two countries' aviation that will remove restrictions.

The general liberalization of routes connecting the two countries and served by their airlines became possible when a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the pact that was agreed on in December of last year was officially signed. However, since the actual opening of routes is premised on ensuring airport landing slots, there will be demand for greater upgrades and expansion of airport facilities, particularly in the Tokyo area.

In accordance with implementation of the Open Skies agreement, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) approved anti-trust immunity on October 22 for Japan Airlines Corporation (JAL) and American Airlines, Inc., who belong to the same alliance, and between All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) and U.S. carriers United Air Lines, Inc. and Continental Airlines (acquired by United). Approval has already been granted by the U.S., so competition is expected to heat up between the airlines through their alliances, leading to greater convenience for travelers such as lower fares and shortened transfer times.

This is the first bilateral Open Skies agreement Japan has officially signed, while limited pacts have already been implemented with some East Asian countries. Open Skies already applies to roughly two-thirds of the world's aviation markets. Japan, which wants to use aviation liberalization to stimulate the economy, will push forward with agreements with other countries and regions.