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Japan Airlines to Move Moscow Flights to Sheremetyevo

On September 12, 2019, Japan Airlines (JAL) announced that it would be relocating its Moscow flights and operation from Domodedovo Airport (DME) to Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO).

Why the Move?

In November 2017, JAL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a “strategic cooperation agreement to pursue commercial opportunities which will greatly benefit the customers of both airlines by providing more options for travel between Russia and Japan.”

Aeroflot is the national carrier of Russia, whose major hub is located at Sheremetyevo International Airport. The Russian airline has the largest network in Russia.

The relocation will occur at some point in 2020, likely at the start of the summer schedule. After this, the first stage of the partnership will be a codeshare cooperation, followed by the development of the partnership in various other areas. Such areas include reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and the consideration of a joint business in the future.

Japan Airlines flights Moscow. One World.
Another sign that airline alliances are dying?
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

What Makes This Relocation Interesting

The reason this move is so intriguing is that JAL already has a codeshare agreement from Domodedovo with fellow Oneworld carrier S7 Airlines. By switching airports for its Moscow flights, JAL is giving this up. However, the airline also recently announced a new service from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Vladivostok International Airport (VVO). VVO is an airport where S7 Airlines operates from, albeit at a much smaller scale than Moscow.

So from this relocation, JAL obviously benefits from partnering with a larger carrier in Aeroflot. Aeroflot also clearly gains the most from this. The losers, however, are S7 Airlines and the Oneworld alliance as a whole. JAL passengers connecting through Moscow are feeding traffic, and therefore revenue, to rival Star Alliance.

Perhaps this is yet another indication that airline alliances are the way of the past, and joint ventures are the way forward?

Featured Image Source: Masakatsu Ukon on Flickr

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