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Japan Airlines Co. formally announced Friday it has joined international cargo alliance WOW.

With the membership of Japan’s largest airline, the alliance — which already incorporates Lufthansa Cargo AG, SAS Cargo Group AS and Singapore Airlines Cargo — has 523 bases in 103 countries, alliance officials said.

The four airlines plan to launch a new range of services in the second half of 2003.

JAL’s cargo sales are currently worth about 150 billion yen a year, with 8 percent of this total generated via high-quality and more specialized services known as J-Products.

JAL’s cargo unit hopes to increase the sales ratio of this high-value-added category to 30 percent by 2005, according to JAL Executive Vice President Takashi Masuko.

As for the alliance, the four members will standardize their cargo transport systems and connect their computer systems in a bid to offer seamless airline-to-airline cargo transfers.

The goal is for clients to feel as though they are dealing with just one of the four airlines.

JAL has not sought to join any international alliances in terms of passenger flights, although rival firms have rushed to do so in an effort to cope with hostile conditions in the aviation industry.

JAL President Isao Kaneko said teaming up with another passenger airline could erase the identity of the member airlines concerned.

He added, however, that the situation is different in the cargo sector, given the required level of speed, quality and global networks.

Asked whether the WOW alliance is seeking an American airline to cover the U.S. domestic market, Andreas Otto, executive board member of Lufthansa Cargo AG, said that no specific American firm is being targeted, although the alliance is open to negotiations with potential partners.

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