American Airlines and Japan Airlines have been granted last approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity in their plan for cooperative flying between North America and Asia,officials said Wednesday.
DOT's approval clears the way for the two airlines to launch their trans-Pacific joint business in early 2011, airline executives said. The combo will offer travelers additional travel options and greater flexibility, the executives said.
"We appreciate the thorough review that DOT has given our request for antitrust immunity that will allow us to move forward with our cooperative business," said Tom Horton, president of Fort Worth-based American. "We also look forward to officials from the United States government and the government of Japan signing an Open Skies agreement, which will allow for additional flights between the United States and Japan."
The DOT approval follows that by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and gives the foundation for the two airlines' joint business agreement.
"We would like to express our gratitude to everyone involved in making this positive decision, and will from hence, go ... towards creating more benefits for our passengers, our companies, our financial supporters and our countries," said Masaru Onishi, president of Japan Airlines.
American plans to start its new nonstop daily service between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Tokyo's Haneda International Airport on Jan. 20.