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More Carriers Will Be Allowed to Offer Transpacific Service : U.S., Japan to Expand Air Routes

May 02, 1985|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — The United States and Japan agreed today to allow 21 extra flights a week between the two countries, an increase of about 17% above current service, and to allow as many as three new airlines from each country to launch Pacific routes.

Franklin Willis, a deputy assistant secretary of state, called the agreement a "breakthrough" that represents a fundamental change in Japan's traditional regulation-minded aviation policy.

"We are obviously very happy with this agreement," which is similar to a proposal that Japan rejected four years ago, Willis said. 'When you add more competitors, you will have more competition, and the fares will drop."

The agreement--although an interim one until negotiations are completed Sept. 30 on a revision of a 1952 U.S.-Japan aviation accord--was struck as a bargain to allow a new Japanese cargo airliner, Nippon Cargo Airlines, to begin six-flights-a-week, round-trip service from Tokyo to San Francisco and New York immediately. NCA, Willis said, will be limited to "less than 10%" of the U.S.-Japan air cargo market, and future increases in its service must be held within the annual growth rate of that cargo market.

Cargo growth for all other airlines now serving U.S.-Japan routes, including Los Angeles-based Flying Tigers, which had protested NCA's entry, will be unlimited, he said.

Both countries are given an option of selecting various combinations of adding service for airlines currently serving existing routes or new airlines serving new cities in the United States, he said. The combinations may add up to 21 round-trip flights a week and up to three new airlines for both the United States and Japan.

Expected to compete for permission to begin new passenger service to Japan are American, Delta, Eastern, Continental, Hawaiian and Aloha airlines, Willis said. All seven American small-package air carriers might also compete to begin service to Japan, and presently designated American passenger carriers--Pan American, Northwest and United--also are expected to compete for additional service, he added.

United's bid to purchase Pan American's Pacific flights, Willis said, would not affect the expected competition for new rights. The proposed deal would merely substitute United for Pan American as the holder of present aviation rights.

Cities that have expressed an interest in serving as points of origin for new Japan-bound flights, according to Willis, are Las Vegas, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Oakland.

In addition, airlines from both countries would be given the opportunity to increase service to Japan from Honolulu, Los Angeles and Portland, he said.

The agreement provides for the extra flights to be phased in over a four-year period, with 10 new round-trip flights by carriers from both countries beginning April 1, 1986, then eight more the following year, two more by April 1, 1988, and one more by April 1, 1989.

Japan also agreed to remove its requirement that Continental-Air Micronesia Airlines fly 25 of its weekly 34 flights to Guam and Saipan in narrow-body 727s immediately. In two years, all restrictions on flight frequency between Japan and Guam-Saipan will be lifted, new service from Fukuoka to the Micronesia cities will be launched and one additional airline from each country will be allowed to begin Tokyo-to-Guam-Saipan service.

Both countries will have the option to include one small (under 70 pounds) package carrier as one of its three airlines to be selected for new or additional service.

Japan, however, was expected to use its "up-to-three-airline option" to allow All Nippon Airways and Toa Domestic Airlines to begin scheduled international passenger service for the first time. Until now, Japan has maintained a monopoly for its semi-governmental Japan Air Lines on scheduled international passenger flights.

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