September 11, 2009

Delta talking deal with Japan Airlines

U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines is in early, but active, negotiations to purchase an equity stake in Japan Airlines, sources close to the deal-making said.

The move could provoke a counter-offer from a consortium of Oneworld alliance airlines, threatened by Delta, which became the world's largest airline after it merged with Northwest Airlines this year, Financial Times reported Friday.

U.S. and Japanese officials have been meeting to negotiate an Open Skies agreement, which would be necessary before the international airlines joined forces, the British business newspaper said.

In a potential parallel move, industry analysts expect All Nippon Airways will also look for a partnership once the accord is signed. Most likely All Nippon would join forces with a Star Alliance airline, such as United Airlines or Lufthansa.

Sources said Delta and Japan Airlines could announce a deal within a few weeks.