Iberia To Partner With JAL – Good For Low Tax Avios Redemptions

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The first moves have been made to add Iberia to the joint business agreement that’s currently in place between Japan Airlines (JAL), British Airways and Finnair. JAL has handed in a submission to Japan’s Ministry of Transport seeking to obtain anti-trust immunity with Iberia which would allow the two carriers to coordinate their routes, flights and pricing on Japan – Europe flights without leaving themselves open to accusations of collusion and price-fixing.

As noted, British Airways and Finnair already share in this type of agreement with JAL and, with Iberia being both a fellow oneWorld airline and a sister airlines to British Airways (they’re both owned by IAG), it makes sense to add the Spanish airline into the equation.

This is what the airlines had to say:

The four airlines intend to cooperate commercially by sharing revenue and by coordinating flight schedules and fares in order to offer greater benefits to customers travelling between Europe and Japan.

The new joint business arrangement is subject to regulatory approvals.

Bringing Iberia into the agreement will not only strengthen the joint business, it will also enable the oneworld® alliance to compete more effectively around the world with other global alliances.

This move has come as a result of a recently signed open skies agreement between Japan and Spain and will see Iberia commence 3x/week service between Madrid and Tokyo from 18 October 2016.

IB6801 MAD 12:20 – 09:35+1 day NRT (Tue, Fri Sun)
IB6800 NRT 11:20 – 17:20 MAD (Mon, Wed, Sat)

The route will be flown by Iberia’s Airbus A330-200 aircraft and reservations for this route are currently open.

iberia-business-class-a330Iberia A330-200 Business Class

Iberia’s new route to Tokyo will give the 4 airlines their 5th European destination and give them a strong set of flights between Europe and Japan:

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 16.12.48

The routes:

Japan Airlines (JAL)

  • Tokyo Narita – Paris
  • Tokyo Haneda – Paris
  • Tokyo Haneda – London
  • Tokyo Narita – Frankfurt
  • Tokyo Narita – Helsinki

Finnair

  • Helsinki – Tokyo Narita
  • Helsinki – Osaka
  • Helsinki – Nagoya
  • Helsinki – Fukuoka

British Airways

  • London Heathrow – Tokyo Narita
  • London Heathrow – Tokyo Haneda

Iberia

  • Madrid – Tokyo Narita (from 18 October 2016)

What Benefits To Flyers?

The obvious benefit will come to oneWorld travelers based in Madrid who will now have a direct flight to Tokyo on which to use their Avios/miles and on which their status will be recognised but that isn’t the best thing to come out of this….

The best thing has to do with airline taxes/surcharges and will please UK-based British Airways Executive Club members most.

As most will already know, the taxes on Avios redemptions on British Airways are high and if you’re departing the UK they’re even worse.

For a Business Class Avios redemption between London and Tokyo (return) you’ll be expected to part with 150,000 Avios and $768 (£530) in carrier surcharges:

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 18.35.24

But taxes on Avios redemptions out of Madrid are lower….much lower:

iberia-business-class-tokyo

€188 is roughly equivalent to $210 or £145 so the savings on tax/surcharges are big. Yes, UK travelers still need to get fro the UK to Madrid but, as an overnight stay in Madrid will not be necessary thanks to the timing of the flights, the savings should still be more than worthwhile.

It’s also worth noting that you should always book Avios redemptions on Iberia via your Iberia Plus account because British Airways will sting you for extra fees if you attempt to book the award through them:

BA-Iberia-Business-Class-MAD-TYO

Those are the exact same flights as offered on the Iberia website only British Airways wants to charge $69 or £48 more per person. For what?!

Note: If you don’t have an Iberia Plus account then sign up for one now because its a very useful thing to have if you’re an Avios collector. 

Bottom Line

Overall I’m not a fan of Joint Business Agreements between airlines because, to my mind, they’re mostly a legal way for airlines to collude on just about everything…and that can never be good for the consumer.

However, it’s also important to point out the good things and, in this case, a new low-tax Avios option to Tokyo is a definite positive and one that a lot of people should be able to make use of. Besides, considering the cost of things in Tokyo it’s probably a good idea to save as much as you can before you get there 🙂

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