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Saturday, January 31, 1998 Published at 07:46 GMT


US-Japan air accord signed
image: [ US flights to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport will dramatically increase ]
US flights to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport will dramatically increase

The United States and Japan have signed a civil aviation agreement which will sharply increase the number of flights between the two countries and could pave the way to full deregulation.

President Bill Clinton called the deal "a landmark agreement" that was part of his drive to open foreign markets to US companies.

[ image: President Clinton:
President Clinton: "a landmark agreement"
In a statement which marks the end of 11 days of negotiations, President Clinton said: "This agreement will expand a $10bn market that services nearly 12m passengers and carries well over 1bn pounds of cargo each year."

"It will allow more US cities to have direct services to Japan and give US airlines extensive new rights to fly into and beyond Japan," he said.

The agreement lifts all restrictions on the number of flights and points served between the US and Japan, for what are known as the "incumbent" US carriers, those already covered by the original 1952 civil aviation accord between Tokyo and Washington.

The three incumbent US carriers, Northwest, United and Federal Express, will also be able to fly beyond Japan to third countries with no limitation on the number of such flights, according to the Department of Transportation.

The non-incumbent carriers, American Airlines, Delta and Continental, which now operate 46 weekly round-trip flights to Japan, will be able to add 90 round-trip flights between US and Japanese points.

The agreement also allows the United States to designate two additional passenger carriers to serve Japan, one immediately and another in two years time.

The Japanese Assistant Vice Minister for Transport, Hiromichi Toya, who negotiated the agreement said: "As a result of this accord, long-standing inequalities between Japan and the United States have been rectified."

"We very much welcome the accord," he said.

According to Mr Toya, two Japanese carriers, All Nippon Airways and Nippon Cargo Airways, will have unrestricted access to the US, a right previously enjoyed by Japan Airlines alone.

In addition, all three Japanese companies will have unlimited access to the United States and from there to destinations in Latin America, Mr Toya said.

The US and Japan began discussing expanded air services in June 1996, with Washington pushing for an "open skies" agreement against stiff Japanese resistance.

Japan had instead pressed for a complete overhaul of the current 1952 civil aviation agreement, insisting that it was unfairly advantageous to US carriers.

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