ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Swiss national airline Swissair has formed a partnership with Japan Airlines, the companies said Today.

The two firms say the agreement will offer customers a better service pattern, improved connections and more sales outlets around the world. It will also increase the frequency of Switzerland-to-Japan flights, the airlines said.

The collaboration will extend into other fields such as catering, luggage handling and aircraft maintenance.

``It's going to give all our customers real and tangible benefits, and it's going to enhance the profitability of both partners, too,'' said Swissair Group Chief Executive Officer Philippe Bruggisser.

The partnership represents the latest move by Swissair towards developing a wide network of alliances with other airlines.

Last week, it agreed a partnership with Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific.

Swissair already has alliances with Delta Airlines in the United States, Austrian Airlines, Belgium's Sabena, Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines and AOM of France.