All Nippon Airways has signed a contract with Skymark Airlines to provide technical assistance to help Skymark obtain a license to begin business, ANA President Seiji Fukatsu said Friday. In a news conference, Fukatsu said that the contract was signed in late February and that ANA will help Skymark procure aircraft and prepare necessary documents until the company applies to the Transport Ministry for the license.

Now that the Transport Ministry has decided to grant some landing and takeoff slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport for new airlines, Skymark, which was established by discount air ticket seller H.I.S. Co. and other investors last year, hopes to start its services between Tokyo and Osaka as early as spring 1998.

The president said ANA decided to support Skymark because there is growing public sentiment that there should be a fourth airline to enhance competition. Currently, ANA, Japan Airlines and Japan Air System dominate the market. The public hopes to have new entrants in the market, but the launch of a new business is impossible without help from existing airlines, Fukatsu said.

“As one of the existing carriers, we feel that we have obligation to provide support for the newcomers,” Fukatsu said. He said Skymark will be paying consulting fees to ANA, but declined to comment on the amount.

A Skymark senior official said the airline plans to entrust ANA with maintenance of its aircraft, but Fukatsu said ANA cannot promise at this moment whether it will provide Skymark with that service.

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