Page last updated at 05:27 GMT, Saturday, 12 December 2009

US and Japan agree on open skies deal

Japan Airlines plane
Japan Airlines would be among carriers benefiting from the deal

The United States and Japan have agreed to a new "open skies" deal cutting restrictions on flights between the two countries.

The agreement will allow airlines from both countries to have a wider range of destinations and routes to choose from.

The agreement, which has yet to be formalised, includes both passenger planes and cargo services.

However the Japanese government said the US would first need to consider waiving certain antitrust rules.

'Competitive pricing'

This would mean airlines which are in alliance with each other would be able to share scheduling, pricing and other information.

In a statement, US Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood said: "Once this agreement takes effect, American and Japanese consumers, airlines and economies will enjoy the benefits of competitive pricing and more convenient service."

The airlines will also be able to increase the number of flights they operate in response to consumer demand.

If the deal goes ahead as planned, it could encourage Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to seek joint ventures with US counterparts, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The current number of flights between the two countries was set under an agreement first reached in 1952.

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