All Nippon Airways, the nation’s second-largest airline, announced March 9 that it has reached an agreement for comprehensive partnership, including code-sharing, with United Airlines of the U.S. and Lufthansa German Airlines.

The three firms are scheduled to officially sign the accord, which also calls for cooperation in frequent flyer mileage programs, on April 21 in Tokyo.

Part of the cooperative operation will start May 1, with the rest to be launched by the end of this year, ANA officials said.

Code-sharing allows airlines to team up to sell seats on each other’s flights, enabling both to work together to build up passenger traffic on a route.

ANA plans to start code-sharing with United on their flights between Narita and such U.S. cities as Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, the officials said. Code-sharing with Lufthansa is to be launched on Narita-Frankfurt flights.

Besides ANA’s deal with United and Lufthansa, Japan Air System, the nation’s third-largest airline, is said to be close to reaching a basic code-sharing agreement with Northwest Airlines of the U.S. and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines of the Netherlands.

Those plans surfaced after Japan Airlines, the nation’s top carrier, announced last month it had reached a basic code-sharing agreement with American Airlines.

The flurry of activity was touched off by a Japan-U.S. aviation agreement reached in late January that allows unlimited code-sharing between Japanese and U.S. carriers.

In another development, JAS is considering flying between Kansai International Airport and Guangzhou in southern China if it gets the approval of Beijing, the sources said.

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