The challenging economic environment that is forcing airlines to reconsider their business models, either by consolidating or stopping operations altogether, is also hurting alliance memberships. Mark Schwab, CEO of the Star Alliance tells ATW that Star was shocked by the disappearance from the market of Spanair earlier this year. When a member ceases operations like this, he explains, it makes a hole in the alliance’s network, “which we then have to back fill”.
Now Star is worried about what will happen to its member bmi, successfully purchased by IAG. Willie Walsh, IAG CEO, previously told ATW that the bmi brand would disappear inside British Airways.
“There is consolidation in general,” Schwab says. “We have been on the benefit side in the past but now we are impacted as well.”
Alliance memberships are creating in-depth commercial discussions about future mergers and joint ventures, he says.
[pictured: Mark Schwab, CEO, Star Alliance; photo courtesy Star Alliance]