Given that this is such a broad topic, I'm only going to focus on the airlines themselves for now.
1. The Fatso's (UA and AA
). Everyone keeps predicting that one of them will fail. I'm not so sure of that yet. Although it the climate is bad, I think the industry has learned a few things from Pan Am, Eastern and TWA.
may shrink a bit and lose some of its territory but it will come out of all this. UA
is the world's largest airline and a key member of the world's largest alliance. No matter what is happening at home, keeping the international flights rolling out helps them keep something of a pulse. If they do fail, it will be a slower process and it will be due to the increased domestic success of the LCC's and the increased international success of other majors like CO
. I also wonder if "Starfish" is timed correctly. Maybe UA
should clean up its current mess before putting a foot in the LCC door. Or maybe its now or never and its the only ticket to survival. I don't know the answer, but its still a crucial question.
*If either of them fail it will be AA
in a few years. UA
may be in more trouble now but I think it is more capable of weathering bankruptcy than AA
is barely avoiding bankruptcy and if it slides into it then it will be lights out at DFW
does seem to be cleaning house a bit, so maybe they will coast past annihilation. I'm curious what their plans for the future are. I wonder how they will deal with watching the LCC's devour the cities that they will inevitably pull out of.
2. The Other Majors: I see NW
expanding in the Pacific and UA
reducing some service there due to competition not only from NW
but also from the Asian airlines who will start more service to the US when the economy takes off again (whenever that is!!??!!!). Anderson seems to be doing a good job at NW
, being very prudent in his fleet-overhauling efforts.
*As for CO
, I think it will expand in Europe and The Middle East and continue to grow as an airline. I see good things for them if they stay on the path that Gordo has set.
is a tough one to call, I think. We'll see how Song does, they are smart to at least try it right now as the LCC's are kicking ass/taking names and DL
seems to be keeping their head off of the chopping block financially. They may gobble up domestic service that UA
can't afford to keep. I also think DL
is onto something in their major cutbacks in intl. service. They seem to be relying more and more on their codesharing partners (NW and Skyteam etc.) for international flights. This allows them to get rid of some expensive aircraft(notice the MD11's aren't being replaced right this second) and focus on staving off the LCC hordes at home.
*As for US, they don't seem to be going anywhere. God only knows whats in store for them. Hopefully not a merger with UA
. If I were in charge of US I would try for a merger with an airline that is strong in the west but needs more presence in the east. This would keep them from being The Odd Man Out. But as the past has taught us, geography never seems to play a big enough role in airline mergers(maybe the conditions were never right for such mergers).
3. As for the big regionals, I think AS
will be the most successful. Its on the right track with its alliances with NW
etc. Flying AS
seems to be almost as cheap as the LCC's but they have the international connections that the LCC's lack. This is a crucial difference that will keep them competitive. I think they will keep growing steadily, adding more flights to the east coast, and expanding their existing west coast service through Horizon.
4. The LCC's will continue to grow but as for which ones will remain in ten years, I don't know.
for sure but I have know idea how they will grow. Bigger aircraft? MORE(!?!) frequencies and cities? Maybe they will gobble up some other LCC's. Its hard to say with them because they are so cautious that you can't predict what they will do until its safe and obvious.
*I Think B6
will have some growing pains but will continue to be successful. However, whether or not they have an idiot at the helm when things get tough will be important. They seem to be smart in fortifying existing cities before expanding to new ones. I hope they expand to more cities, though.
*As for the others, it's hard to say. TZ
seems to be doing well but I'm curious to see what they will do in the future.
needs to move west and gain presence in more cities if its going to be anything other than a bit player.
Those are my impressions from following the industry over the last two years, but I'm no expert. If anybody has facts to either back up or tear apart my predictions I'd love to hear them.