chapter  2
36 Pages

Learning from the Past, Looking at the Present: First the Facts

Airline alliances and mergers have a history of great instability and promiscuity.

Typically, they are abandoned because management difficulties and/or divergences

in partners’ needs, interests and tactics create the irreconcilable differences that

lead to divorce. In the past, airlines, and especially the privatised, previously state-

owned European carriers experimented with different partners after disentangling

themselves from government protection policies and finding themselves face to face

with the realities of the Single Aviation Market in Europe. Smaller airlines joined

forces, beefing up to match the majors. Others gave priority to long-haul routes

and turned to US partners. Before 1995 the success rate of alliances measured just

under three years. Some carriers even attempted cross-border mergers, building on

geographical affinity and proximity or on historical and cultural ties. These first

mergers ended badly.