The merger drama continues

While the start of ‘open-skies’ flights between Europe and the US – the result of four years of arduous negotiations between the two parties – began end-March, two consolidation dramas were playing out on either side of the Atlantic. While both the Northwest/Delta and Air France-KLM/Alitalia merger talks would clearly have benefited the hugely fragmented […]


While the start of ‘open-skies’ flights between Europe and the US – the result of four years of arduous negotiations between the two parties – began end-March, two consolidation dramas were playing out on either side of the Atlantic. While both the Northwest/Delta and Air France-KLM/Alitalia merger talks would clearly have benefited the hugely fragmented air industry, both have exemplified the stunted mentality that continues to be a ball and chain around the ankles of the air industry.

There can be no disputing the absolute need – dire need in the case of the US carriers – for a hefty dose of rationalisation. The industry, as painful as it might be for some carriers, needs to embrace the free market environment like a pair of love-sick teenagers. And as much as at least some of the industry may share that desire, misguided and protectionist politicians, self-serving unions and a dusty international convention stuck in perpetual time-warp all conspire to play Victorian chaperone in frustrating that ultimate embrace. In the case of the US carriers, the process was derailed by the inability of the pilots’ unions to reach an agreement on the seemingly simple issue of combining their seniority lists.