As Japan Airlines nears a likely bankruptcy, the status of two of the largest global airline alliances are set for a possible shift.
Japan Airlines, which is currently a part of the OneWorld Alliance, which includes American Airlines, could switch to the SkyTeam alliance, which is headed by Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM Group.
American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey visited Japan in December to meet with top government officials to lay out the company’s case, saying American’s offer would not only be more lucrative, but would also more easily be approved by U.S. anti-trust authorities.
Arpey argued that the U.S. government has an interest in keeping JAL allied with American in the OneWorld alliance because this would keep three alliances of roughly equal size competing for the Japan-U.S. air travel market.
In addition, he argued that a continuing tie-up with American would result in an alignment of interests since the companies’ networks don’t overlap.
SkyTeam’s offer is reportedly $1 billion, including $500 million in cash. The OneWorld ofer is $1.4 billion in cash.
SkyTeam reportedly offered JAL a $1 billion package in November, which includes a $500 million investment in the airline.
Meanwhile, American said last Tuesday that along with its alliance partners and private equity firm TPG, it was raising its offer for JAL to an investment of $1.4 billion.
As for JAL's status under a possible bankruptcy, it was promised last week that it would receive support to prevent any disruptions in its operations. The airline would be aided by a quasi-public firm – Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. - established by Japan’s government.