Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a new joint-venture agreement that would take effect in 2020 as the two carriers look to build upon their services offered between Malaysia and Japan in time for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The agreement would build upon the two carriers’ existing collaboration as members of the Oneworld alliance with the aim of “enhancing the quality of services provided by both carriers on flights between Malaysia and Japan”.

According to a joint press release from the two airlines, applications have been submitted to the Malaysian and Japanese governments for exemption from antitrust laws. The agreement is now subject to relevant approvals.

So what will this mean for passengers?

Speaking about the new agreement, Izham Ismail, group CEO of Malaysia Airlines, said: “This partnership will provide better efficiencies and a more comprehensive network for our customers whilst also playing a key role in further strengthening trade ties between Malaysia and Japan, increasing tourism and promoting Kuala Lumpur International Airport as an air hub”.

As members of the Oneworld alliance, the two carriers already offer travellers the ability to book multiple flights with both airlines under a single booking, along with providing reciprocal frequent-flyer benefits and lounge access.

But a joint-venture agreement could also enable the two airlines to better coordinate their existing services, providing improved connections between flights.

The partnership would also enable the two carriers to coordinate by “exchanging best practices, exploring collaboration in other operational areas such as cargo, and developing jointly tourism in both Japanese and Malaysian markets,” according to the airlines’ joint press release.

Malaysia Airlines currently flies 12 times a week between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, while Japan Airlines flies the route once per day. The Malaysian carrier also operates daily Kuala Lumpur-Osaka and twice weekly Kota Kinabalu-Tokyo services.

For an in-depth look into what joint-ventures can mean for passengers, take a look at our feature “Airline joint ventures: Marriage of convenience”.

Malaysia Airlines recently gave its Osaka service a frequency boost, and will soon be rolling out new Business Suites and business class menus on board its flights from Kuala Lumpur to destinations in Japan.

Japan Airlines, meanwhile, is expanding its partnerships with carriers across Asia-Pacific with an expansion to its codesharing agreeement with Garuda Indonesia and plans for a joint-venture agreement with China Eastern sometime this year.