An agreement is being reached between the U.S. Departments of State and Transportation and the government of Japan. Four years in the making, this agreement will slacken the U.S.-Japan bilateral air services agreement and thereby allow increased freedom for U.S. and Japanese airlines.
The agreement also expanded rights for cargo carriers, and scheduled a meeting in summer 2008, with further liberalization planned. “The two sides agreed to resume negotiations no later than the summer of 2008 to look at additional ways to expand air service between the US and Japan,” said the Department of Transport.
However, the US-Japan bilateral agreement is still restrictive. Japan resists US efforts to press for an “open skies” agreement, which would allow carriers from either country to fly to any point in the other without limits on capacity, fares, or alliance deals. Moreover, Japan is likely to reject increased access to Tokyo’s Haneda airport until at least 2010, when a new runway is completed at what is now a mostly domestic hub.
The gains for passenger flights in the US-Japan agreement are additionally constrained by congestion at Tokyo’s Narita airport, the country’s main international gateway. However, carriers will be able to offer more code-share services through their alliance partners, and there is also provision for more flexible fares.
Earlier this year, the US signed a new aviation deal with China which will more than double the number of passenger flights by 2012 and accelerate access to new competitors.