The national carriers of Russia and Japan have signed a strategic cooperation agreement that they say will bring significant customer benefits and increase travel options between the two nations.

The MOU between Aeroflot and Japan Airlines (JAL) will see them pursuing a variety of commercial opportunities.

The two airlines noted there has been a steady increase in demand for flights between their two nations since they eased their visa requirements in January 2017.

An initial step to meet this demand will be a codeshare on international services between the two countries, as well as on domestic services in both nations. The codeshare’s first stage is scheduled to be implemented after fiscal year 2018.

Additionally, JAL and Aeroflot will seek to develop their partnership in areas including frequent flyer programs and airport relocation. Ultimately, they will consider a joint business in the future.

“As the only airline in Japan operating to Russia for over 50 years, the launch of a forward-looking partnership with Aeroflot demonstrates our strong commitment to this very important market,” JAL EVP Tadashi Fujita said.

“As we jointly started the Tokyo-Moscow flight 50 years ago, this strategic cooperation of mutual benefits will offer both airlines’ customers more options and flexibility,” he added.

“[The] Japanese market is a long-standing and important one for Aeroflot,” the airline’s deputy CEO for strategy and alliances Giorgio Callegari said. “We believe that by expanding our partnership with JAL for both direct and transit traffic we will be able to further develop this market by providing more opportunities for our passengers.”

JAL operates 4X-weekly flights to Moscow Domodedovo from Tokyo Narita using Boeing 787-8s. This rose to 7X-weekly during the peak July to October 2017 summer season.

Aeroflot, meanwhile, operates daily nonstop flights from Moscow Sheremetyevo to Tokyo Narita with Airbus 330-300s.

Alan Dron