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TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Japan Airlines (JAL) (9205.T) has agreed on a tie-up with Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) that will mean JAL joins the SkyTeam airline alliance, dropping its membership of the Oneworld alliance, a Japanese newspaper said on Saturday.

JAL and Delta agreed the deal in Tokyo on Friday, the Yomiuri newspaper said, and plan to complete the switch by April 2011.

As JAL heads for bankruptcy, Delta and American Airlines (AMR.N) have been courting it with rival offers of financial aid, eager to gain access to routes to fast-growing Asian markets and to get a stronger foothold in Japan.

Japan’s state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan (ETIC) has estimated that an alliance with Delta would give JAL an annual benefit of 17.2 billion yen, three times more than expanded ties with American would offer.

Delta will continue to discuss with ETIC how much it will invest in JAL, the Yomiuri said. The two companies will apply to the U.S. government for anti-trust immunity by mid-February, the newspaper said.

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