All Nippon Airways has entered into negotiations with South Korea's Asiana Airlines as part of its efforts to create a three-way tie-up with airlines in China and South Korea, a senior ANA official said.
Katsuhiko Kitabayashi, ANA's senior managing director, said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Washington that the carrier hoped a deal would improve convenience for customers, as well as attract more tourists to East Asia through development of new products such as "circular journey tickets" that take in all three countries.
The company also plans to launch a new route that connects major airports in those countries--Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Gimpo Airport in Seoul and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai.
According to Kitabayashi, ANA has established a special department to deal with the envisioned tie-up, and about 20 ANA representatives visited Asiana's headquarters in Seoul in late January for initial talks.
ANA and Asiana are part of the 17-member Star Alliance group. ANA has been considering forming a partnership with either Air China or Shanghai Airlines--both of which are set to become Star Alliance members.
In an effort to cut costs, ANA and Asiana hope to jointly procure airplane parts and eating utensils, according to Kitabayashi.
The three airports envisioned for the new route are all located near large cities. While they used to deal with international flights, they have since become largely domestic hubs after international airports such as Narita, Incheon (South Korea) and Shanghai Pudong (China) were opened.
Star Alliance members, including ANA, have also started discussions on the compilation of a database that would allow them to share information on their fleets. By doing so, the Japanese airline plans to loan aircraft during off-season periods to its U.S. counterparts during peak traveling periods in the United States.
ANA was for the first time named Airline of the Year by Air Transport World Magazine in 2007, with Kitabayashi attending the award ceremony.