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.