Air Traffic Control

September 15, 2009

AIRFRANCE/JALJapan Airlines announced cuts to its international flight schedule, in line with thousands of layoffs planned over the next year, as it tries to navigate its heavy debt load. But the Japanese national carrier has never been busier with a different kind of traffic.

Air France-KLM has joined the list of would-be suitors, according to a source familiar with the matter. Delta and American Airlines are seen as being in better position to win a stake in JAL — if Japan and the United States can reach an “open skies” agreement.

JAL is Asia’s biggest carrier by revenue, and a deal would help any Western airline gain access to China and other Asian routes via code-sharing agreements. We hear the going price for a minority stake and a code-sharing deal is somewhere in the range of $200 million to $300 million.

American Airlines is JAL’s preferred bidder because it is already linked with the carrier through the Oneworld alliance. But the Japanese government, which is pumping support into the struggling airline, is thought to prefer the financially healthier Delta or Air France-KLM.

JAL is said to be looking to close a deal by the middle of next month.

Christopher Kaufman; DealZone Editor

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