JAL - Japan Airlines (JL, Tokyo Haneda) and Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) now have a clear road ahead to establish a joint business agreement (JBA) next year after the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and Japan`s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) both granted the tie-up antitrust immunity (ATI), the airlines said in a press statement on December 19.

Yuji Akasaka, President of Japan Airlines said: “We would like to thank the regulators for approving our ATI application with Malaysia Airlines. We anticipate launching this joint business relationship in 2020 to provide additional travel benefits for our mutual customers.”

Captain Izham Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Airlines said: “We are excited for the opportunities the Joint Business provides for both airlines. We are confident that with this partnership, we will be able to deliver important benefits to our customers and to grow the business between our countries. We thank MAVCOM for their extensive review and trust in both Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines.”

From April 2020, the JBA will allow the two Asian airlines to cooperate commercially on flights between the two countries and aims to provide customers with additional flight choices, a larger network, better connections, and an improved frequent flyer programme.

The application had been received by MAVCOM in April 2019, for the metal neutral JBA. The purpose was to enhance both airlines' passenger air services between Malaysia and Japan and to gain critical mass in view of the stiff competition from other carriers from Malaysia, Japan and nearby hubs (Singapore Changi, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and Hong Kong Int'l).

In terms of the 26 weekly services operated by both carriers between Malaysia and Japan, these are according to ch-aviation schedules module and are broken down as follows:

By contrast, competing airlines currently offer 44 weekly services on direct routes between the two countries:

Although redacted from the published version of the application, either Malaysia Airlines or Japan Airlines suggested a new route, to be launched in 2020, between the two countries if the JBA was successful. In addition, the two carriers suggested a more harmonised schedule between Kuala Lumpur and Narita, moving away from flights at similar times to one with more spread across the day to provide greater options and improved flight connectivity.