Japan Airlines has made its decision. Despite an attractive offer from Delta and the SkyTeam alliance, JAL will remain a partner of American in Oneworld.

We leave it to the readers of spreadsheets to speculate on whether this is the best decision for JAL, but from where we sit, it's the best decision for travelers and travel sellers because of its effect on the market structure.

For better or worse, the global airline industry is coalescing into three alliance groups: Star, SkyTeam and Oneworld. Opinion remains divided as to whether this is good or bad, but we're certain that consolidation into merely two alliance groups would be worse.

And, make no mistake: Without JAL, Oneworld would have been seriously challenged in the region, battling against Star (which includes United and All Nippon Airways) as well as a SkyTeam that added JAL's system with Delta's newly acquired Northwest routes.

With JAL in Oneworld, the coming battle for market share in the Pacific looks to be a bit more balanced.

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