Japan Airlines International on June 1 plans to launch the "JAL Mile Phone," a service that will enable members of the airline's JAL Mileage Bank frequent-flyer program to earn miles using customized smartphones and users of the airline's JAL credit card to secure additional benefits.

KDDI Corp., one of Japan's leading mobile network operators, and Inphonix Inc., a Tokyo-based technology company, jointly are providing the service in collaboration with the airline.

According to media reports, JAL, which is facing bankruptcy protection, is launching this service to attract more customers.

In Japan, mobile carriers are known to rent out capacity to companies that do not have their own mobile infrastructures, known as mobile virtual network operators. For example, Walt Disney Co. started Japanese mobile-phone services using the Softbank Corp. network in 2008.

Each user of the phones KDDI is selling with the "JAL Mile Phone" logo will earn up to seven miles per 100 yen (US$1.10 or 89 euro cents) charged to their JAL Cards for phone calls, e-mails and Web browsing. These charges will appear on their monthly mobile bills.

"Only five miles can be earned if the bill is not paid using the card," Kojiro Waki, a Japan Airlines spokesperson, tells PaymentsSource, noting the added benefits from using the card also extend to shopping at more than 39,000 contract stores in Japan.

"Customers earn two miles for every 100 yen paid by JAL Card in these stores, while only 1 mile in other stores," he says.

Consumers automatically become JAL Mileage Bank participants for free after buying a phone from KDDI, the spokesperson adds. However, they have to go through credit-screening process to receive the JAL Card.

JAL Mileage Bank participants also may exchange accumlated miles for hotel stays and when purchasing or using services of various partner companies.

The airline issues the JAL Card in collaboration with Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide, Diner's Club International and JCB; customers may choose their card scheme when applying for the card.

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