China Eastern, Japan Airlines link up as more Chinese tour Japan

SHANGHAI: China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd and Japan Airlines Co Ltd on Thursday said they would form a joint venture to tap into the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan, the first such deal between a Chinese and Japanese carrier.
China Eastern said in a press release that the pair wanted to offer customers more connecting flights and lower ticket prices through the venture, which will require the approval of both the Chinese and Japanese governments, it added.
JAL said they hoped the agreement could start operations in the first half of 2019. The deal includes plans for its domestic network featuring over 50 cities in Japan and over 80 on China’s domestic routes operated by China Eastern, it said.
Ma Xulun, China Eastern’s president, said the agreement was made based on the market prospects of Sino-Japanese routes and that they believed the deal would inject a “fresh dynamic” into both countries’ aviation markets.
“We believe this partnership will generate more passenger traffic between the two countries and open up commercial opportunities,” said Yoshiharu Ueki, JAL’s chairman.
The countries have had a strained relationship historically but Japan has been a major beneficiary of a rapid rise in the number of Chinese travelling internationally as household income rises.
China is the largest among inbound visitors to Japan, with the number rising 15 per cent to 7.4 million last year, according to Japanese statistics. Only around a third as many Japanese visited China in 2016, based on the latest available outbound data.
— Reuters