The UK's Financial Mail is today reporting that Swissair is weighing up plans to open up merger talks with British Airways, in competition with KLM. Swissair employed a leading consultancy firm to weigh up the benefits of a relationship with BA - the study found Swissair and British Airways are better suited as partners than BA/KLM.
BA still claims talks with KLM are on track. But the Swissair study maintains there would be fewer regulatory problems with a BA/SR link than BA/KL. Both the EC and USA will probably impose penalties on both BA and KLM should they merge to form the world's 3rd largest airline, including BA surrendering LHR slots or KLM ending it's alliance with KLM should BA refuse to do this.
Swissair would also better fit with BA's policy of targeting high-yield Premium passengers. KLM does not have a First Class cabin, and 70% of their passengers are economy travellers transfering from neighbouring countries. The Swissair study concluded a BA/KLM deal would increase the losses BA already suffers on their short-haul flights.
A Swissair merger will also allow BA to keep American Airlines as it's US partner, which is their prefered choice. Daniel Solon of aviation consultants Avmark said;
"Northwest is hardly BA's first choice as an American partner." I think he was being polite! Northwest has a poor image, an ageing fleet, no service to major Trans-Atlantic gateways such as JFK, BOS and LAX, and only serves one UK airport, Gatwick.
However BA is reported to have accepted that an alliance with Northwest is the price they will have to pay for KLM, although Rod Eddington is reportedly far from happy with this.
Swissair would also bring with it Sabena and Crossair. BA would also regain access to the French domestic market through Air Liberte/AOM, along with links to Turkish Airlines, Air Portugal, Air Europe and Portugalia.
Very interesting. I think Swissair are a much better partner for British Airways;
- More compatible image
- Fleets better matched
- Same US partner
- Fits BA's overall strategy better
I hope 2 of the world's best airlines can come to an agreement to allow them to continue to grow and provide excellent service to a growing number of passengers.