Moderators: richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
User avatar
neomax
Topic Author
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:26 am

If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:58 am

If we backtrack a couple of years before the mergers started, and the trend of consolidation did not emerge, which of the following would've been most likely to have survived on their own:

DL
AA
UA
WN
AS
NW
US
CO
AT
VX
NK
F9
G4
 
caverunner17
Posts: 267
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:50 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:08 am

There's really little point in what-if's. AFAIK, none of the major airlines were on the brink of shutting down (Air Berlin style) had a merger not gone through. Mergers were done to decrease competition, increase profits and provide increased value to shareholders.
 
AA737-823
Posts: 5498
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:31 am

neomax wrote:
If we backtrack a couple of years before the mergers started, and the trend of consolidation did not emerge, which of the following would've been most likely to have survived on their own:
G4


All of them.
There was never a legitimate need for mergers, from a survival standpoint.
It was a farce to reduce/eliminate competition, and it has worked so beautifully that the arrogant CEO of one of those carriers recently spouted off that his company will "never lose money again."
THAT is when you know that you've created a monster. If a company doesn't even have to be concerned about profit/loss for their foreseeable future, there's a big problem.
Now, carriers are the most profitable they've ever been, all while offering the most cramped cabins they've ever flown (AA 738MAX, for example).

Cue all the people who drank the KoolAid and will argue with me in 3...2...1...
 
User avatar
TWA772LR
Posts: 7314
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:12 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:44 am

I'd argue that it actually increased competition. You now have at least 3 carriers with near-identical destination offerings from 95% of US airports with commercial service. Back in the days of the US6, it wasn't uncommon to have 1-2-3 airlines at a tiny airport, with the others left out because it didn't make sense because their closest hub was 1000 miles away.

The LCC's would have eaten their lunch.
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
Blerg
Posts: 4169
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:42 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:47 am

AA737-823 wrote:
neomax wrote:
If we backtrack a couple of years before the mergers started, and the trend of consolidation did not emerge, which of the following would've been most likely to have survived on their own:
G4


All of them.
There was never a legitimate need for mergers, from a survival standpoint.
It was a farce to reduce/eliminate competition, and it has worked so beautifully that the arrogant CEO of one of those carriers recently spouted off that his company will "never lose money again."
THAT is when you know that you've created a monster. If a company doesn't even have to be concerned about profit/loss for their foreseeable future, there's a big problem.
Now, carriers are the most profitable they've ever been, all while offering the most cramped cabins they've ever flown (AA 738MAX, for example).

Cue all the people who drank the KoolAid and will argue with me in 3...2...1...


You are absolutely right. I travel to the US quite often for work and I am always shocked by how little choice I have when flying (domestic) compared to Europe. Naturally, there are a few markets in the US where there is a lot of competition (NY to Florida) but what about the rest of the country? God forbid you have to fly to a smaller market in the Midwest. I always try to fly on JetBlue but their network is still rather weak to be totally competitive.

One thing I noticed here on Airliners is the obsession with mergers. The moment an airline does well people start to speculate on who will buy them or who will they merge with. I hope that eventually there will be more competition but I think it's highly unlikely.
 
Varsity1
Posts: 2226
Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 4:55 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:44 am

TWA772LR wrote:
I'd argue that it actually increased competition. You now have at least 3 carriers with near-identical destination offerings from 95% of US airports with commercial service. Back in the days of the US6, it wasn't uncommon to have 1-2-3 airlines at a tiny airport, with the others left out because it didn't make sense because their closest hub was 1000 miles away.

The LCC's would have eaten their lunch.


This is the truth.

It has also cut down on being stranded. I remember getting stranded all weekend because the next northwest flight wasn't until monday.
"PPRuNe will no longer allow discussions regarding Etihad Airlines, its employees, executives, agents, or other representatives. Such threads will be deleted." - ME3 thug airlines suing anyone who brings negative information public..
 
User avatar
neomax
Topic Author
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:26 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:49 am

TWA772LR wrote:
I'd argue that it actually increased competition. You now have at least 3 carriers with near-identical destination offerings from 95% of US airports with commercial service. Back in the days of the US6, it wasn't uncommon to have 1-2-3 airlines at a tiny airport, with the others left out because it didn't make sense because their closest hub was 1000 miles away.

The LCC's would have eaten their lunch.


In theory it's a fair point, because a lot of people I've talked to believe that if they lived in city XYZ during PM days, they'd have all 6 airlines flying to their city, where in reality, only 3 or 4 of them would actually be doing it, and that competition would be very variable depending on where in the country you lived because of how small the individual networks were, resulting in mediocre coverage at best that left out a number of decent sized cities as a result. The main problem with this theory is that it simply isn't true. Despite the fact that you would only expect to see only a few airlines out of the US6 flying to your airport as would make sense economically, all 6 actually were flying to most airports in the country. I can distinctly recall seeing DL, AA, UA, WN, NW, CO, US, and AT at my home airport all the way up until the mergers, and based on this, competition was greater because all 6 were indeed flying to most cities. The theory that some believe about only a few airlines flying to a given airport would've been true if you couldn't rely on all US6 not flying to XYZ, but this was not the case as all of them did! So in reality, instead of going from 3-4 weak carriers to 3-4 strong carriers, we actually went from 6-7 strong carriers to 3-4 strong carriers, and this did end up reducing competition, although admittedly not to the degree that most people think. I am skeptical that such a hyper competitive environment was sustainable in the long term regardless, and the US3 that remain today have a much stronger and more robust nationwide network than any one of the US6 pre-merger. Competition on the east coast in PM days with all US6 heavily present was very strong, but it was the opposite on the west coast. If you lived out west in PM days and wanted to fly internationally from the west coast, especially TPAC, you were pretty much screwed if you didn't want to fly UA from SFO, as US/PHX, DL/SLC were all domestic while everyone else had hubs in the east/midwest, NW (DTW, MSP, CVG), CO (EWR, IAH, CLE), AA (DFW, ORD, MIA). United was and still is today the only US airline that has any sort of real Int'l/TPAC network from the west coast from SFO, and in that regard, not much has changed as most people who fly internationally from the west coast still prefer UA. The moral of the story is that how much competition changed is heavily dependent on where you live. It got worse for people living on the east coast, but has gotten better for those living on the west coast, so it evens out. Nevertheless, it should be noted that UA has a complete monopoly on the TPAC network from SFO as neither DL nor AA offer a TPAC network anything remotely close to UA even after consolidation.

Image
 
oldannyboy
Posts: 2574
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:28 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:40 am

As usual with "what ifs" discussions it's always personal opinions, so here's mine, for what it's worth..
I suppose that easily ALL airlines you list could have happily & healthily survived, provided they adapted to the ever changing market dynamics.
This begs the questions for me: why is the US so obsessed with "consolidation"? The term -at least in aviation practical terms- does not even exist in other parts of this great big planet.
Consolidation is generally, and per-se, considered bad in mature economies, because it decreases competition and market options for the consumer.
I have yet to fully understand what the customer is gaining by not having VX, or NW providing an extra choice........
 
simairlinenet
Posts: 817
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:24 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:23 pm

Concur with AA737, all of them would have survived. The economy was back on the upswing, and more importantly, even unhealthy airlines can stay alive for a very long time thanks to creditor lifelines, labor concessions, bankruptcy protection, and importantly, the fact that airlines receive cash from customers before paying their expenses.
 
ehaase
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:06 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:30 pm

I am glad the airlines merged because now they are financially stable and not in constant threat of bankruptcy as before. The airlines really should be thought of as public utilities.
 
HPRamper
Posts: 5027
Joined: Sat May 14, 2005 4:22 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:47 pm

Sure, they would have survived, but several would have been only marginally profitable if at all and we would have seen more bankruptcies. Thinking of it only from consumer point of view seems inherently selfish to me - you want your cheap tickets and comfortable seats but you don't give a crap if the company is financially solvent. I'm not just talking about shareholders making money, that's being able to give employees raises and offer benefits, etc.
 
User avatar
TVNWZ
Posts: 2269
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:28 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:01 pm

Bankruptcies were rampant. Saying they all would survive is folly. What industry has not had to consolidate? I think you would have the same national airlines you have today. DL, AA, UA, WN. Then add in several opportunistic LLCs to round out the total.

You either grow or die. You can not stay stagnant. And acceptable growth under the airlines named by the op above would be hard to achieve--if not impossible.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 8270
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:13 pm

oldannyboy wrote:
As usual with "what ifs" discussions it's always personal opinions, so here's mine, for what it's worth..
I suppose that easily ALL airlines you list could have happily & healthily survived, provided they adapted to the ever changing market dynamics.
This begs the questions for me: why is the US so obsessed with "consolidation"? The term -at least in aviation practical terms- does not even exist in other parts of this great big planet.


Europeans may not know the term but their carriers know the practice.

IAG = BA, IB + BMI + Aer Lingus + Vueling

Lufthansa Group = Lufthansa + Swiss International + Austrian + Brussels + Eurowings

It's pretty easy for economists to argue that the pre-consolidation pattern of U.S. carriers - wage and benefit reductions, failure to earn cost of capital leading to underinvestment in fleet and techniology, the widespread bankruptcies (even serial bankruptcies by CO and US) that the industry was non-sustainable.
 
FSDan
Posts: 3340
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:27 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:42 pm

neomax wrote:
United was and still is today the only US airline that has any sort of real Int'l/TPAC network from the west coast from SFO


What constitutes a "real" Int'l/TPAC network? Apparently not AA from LAX with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/HND/PEK/PVG/HKG/SYD/AKL, or DL from SEA with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/ICN/PEK/PVG/HKG...

neomax wrote:
it should be noted that UA has a complete monopoly on the TPAC network from SFO as neither DL nor AA offer a TPAC network anything remotely close to UA even after consolidation.


It sounds funny to say United has a "complete monopoly" on TPAC routes from SFO when they directly compete with HA and AS/VX to Hawaii, and with JL, KE, OZ, MU, CA, BR, CI, CX, HX, SQ, QF, and soon BF to international destinations.
This is my signature until I think of a better one.
 
User avatar
neomax
Topic Author
Posts: 945
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:26 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:56 pm

FSDan wrote:
What constitutes a "real" Int'l/TPAC network? Apparently not AA from LAX with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/HND/PEK/PVG/HKG/SYD/AKL, or DL from SEA with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/ICN/PEK/PVG/HKG...


You can fit DL and AA's entire combined TPAC network inside that of UA, and that doesn't even include the rest of Asia, ie. DEL, BOM, not to mention Guam, Micronesia, etc. Credit where it is due, the latter was inherited from CO. So not only are there more than a few TPAC destinations that only UA serves post-merger, but they are also the only US airline to fly to India after the merger. Nevertheless, my main point was that despite consolidation in the industry where TATL and domestic flying were significantly strengthened, the Int'l network of DL and AA is still skewed very heavily east from the east coast to Europe, where UA practically has a stranglehold on west coast TPAC flying. Consolidation did nothing to increase competition on this front as compared to the US3 on TATL routes as UA has dominated pre-merger and post-merger amongst the US3 across the Pacific.

FSDan wrote:
It sounds funny to say United has a "complete monopoly" on TPAC routes from SFO when they directly compete with HA and AS/VX to Hawaii, and with JL, KE, OZ, MU, CA, BR, CI, CX, HX, SQ, QF, and soon BF to international destinations.


Monopoly as compared to DL and AA.
 
twicearound
Posts: 176
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:56 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:37 pm

ehaase wrote:
I am glad the airlines merged because now they are financially stable and not in constant threat of bankruptcy as before. The airlines really should be thought of as public utilities.

Except they're not. They are for profit businesses with the sole interest of making money. Everyone has a right to fair and regulated utilities, no one has a right to fly, that would fall into the privilege category. See Deregulation
 
ShinyAndChrome
Posts: 280
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:53 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:58 pm

neomax wrote:
FSDan wrote:
What constitutes a "real" Int'l/TPAC network? Apparently not AA from LAX with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/HND/PEK/PVG/HKG/SYD/AKL, or DL from SEA with LIH/HNL/OGG/KOA/NRT/ICN/PEK/PVG/HKG...


You can fit DL and AA's entire combined TPAC network inside that of UA, and that doesn't even include the rest of Asia, ie. DEL, BOM, not to mention Guam, Micronesia, etc. Credit where it is due, the latter was inherited from CO. So not only are there more than a few TPAC destinations that only UA serves post-merger, but they are also the only US airline to fly to India after the merger. Nevertheless, my main point was that despite consolidation in the industry where TATL and domestic flying were significantly strengthened, the Int'l network of DL and AA is still skewed very heavily east from the east coast to Europe, where UA practically has a stranglehold on west coast TPAC flying. Consolidation did nothing to increase competition on this front as compared to the US3 on TATL routes as UA has dominated pre-merger and post-merger amongst the US3 across the Pacific.


I’d like to hear your threshold for what constitutes a “real” TPAC network. Of course someone will always be biggest in any given market but you make it sound like UA flying niche routes like KIX and CTU somehow means everyone else has given up on the West Coast.

Plain and simple, once you have PVG/PEK/TYO/ICN/HKG covered, you’re already in the game for most US point-of-sale business travel and a plurality if not a majority of leisure travel. You might not have the best hand, but you’re in the game. And for Asian point-of-sale, all of the US3 now have strong partnerships that they can rely on to supplement their own efforts and vice versa for their Asian counterparts in the US.

And I really fail to see how consolidation hasn’t made for a more competitive US-Asia marketplace. All of the US3 now have stable TPAC franchises that can offer a variety of non-stop or one-stop connections to the top Asian destinations for the majority of the US population through gateways throughout the Eastern and Western US. UA might still have the advantage but so what? Before the mergers, what real competition was there to UA at SFO? PMDL’s PDX hublet? NW in SEA or NRT? CO in GUM?
 
gunnerman
Posts: 1146
Joined: Fri May 19, 2017 7:55 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:49 pm

oldannyboy wrote:
This begs the questions for me: why is the US so obsessed with "consolidation"? The term -at least in aviation practical terms- does not even exist in other parts of this great big planet.

In China, CAAC "encouraged" consolidation into three airline groups, namely CA, CZ and MU.

In Europe, AF and KL came together to form Air France-KLM, BA and IB did the same to form IAG.

So long as mergers can increase market share and profitability, they will take place. Note that I haven't mentioned better customer service or increased job prospects for the tens of thousands of employees
 
User avatar
TWA772LR
Posts: 7314
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:12 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:51 pm

neomax wrote:
TWA772LR wrote:
I'd I can distinctly recall seeing DL, AA, UA, WN, NW, CO, US, and AT at my home airport all the way up until the mergers, and based on this, competition was greater because all 6 were indeed flying to most cities.

WADR, if you live in a city that had all of the carriers flying there, you must live in a decent-sized city/catchment area.

It wouldn't make sense for UA to serve a city like Beaumont from DEN or ORD, or DL to serve HRL from SLC or ATL, or CO to serve GEG from IAH, and so on.
When wasn't America great?


The thoughts and opinions shared under this username are mine and are not influenced by my employer.
 
michman
Posts: 901
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:51 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:33 pm

I suspect they would have survived, but they certainly could not pay decent wages, re-invest in their equipment/products, and offer cheap fares all at the same time. I often wonder how many of the moaners and complainers were actually flying back then. NW was "okay", but their equipment was old, they had completely stopped serving any form of free snacks on domestic flights, and they had either ripped out or disabled the IFE on the domestic flights. Also, the employees tended to be grouchy and constantly at odds with management over pay/benefits. While the legacy fares might be cheaper than legacy fares today, airports like CVG and CLE would likely still be hubs and have much higher fares than they do now thanks to the LCC's and ULCC's which have filled much of the void the legacies left.

As both domestic and international ULCC's grow and expand, the legacies are going to continue to lose pricing power. This isn't all going to happen overnight, but is IS going to happen. BE fares have somewhat blunted the fare pricing pressure temporarily, but no way is it going to hold the dam forever. The network legacies will likely continue to have a place in the world, but it is ultimately going to be a smaller and smaller piece of the overall pie.
 
PI4EVER
Posts: 817
Joined: Wed May 06, 2009 10:29 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:04 pm

This dates back beyond the round of mergers likely being discussed within the last 8-10 years, but there is little doubt that US would have shut down in 2005 had it not been for the buyout/merger/takeover by HP and the Doug Parker team. It was virtually days away from shutting the doors, and that end result could or would have happened as a result of the PS and PI mergers in 1988 and 89. US did not build a financially successful enterprise, for various reasons, from that marriage and simply could not stem loss of revenue and market share.
And the fun airline of Texas was giving everyone a run for their money, and the public responded. The rest is history and hopefully AA will be more successful as a result. US had a lot of good people who worked through very trying times to help keep the airline flying.
watch what you want. you may get it.
 
YIMBY
Posts: 724
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:32 pm

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:41 pm

neomax wrote:
If we backtrack a couple of years before the mergers started, and the trend of consolidation did not emerge, which of the following would've been most likely to have survived on their own:

DL
AA
UA
WN
AS
NW
US
CO
AT
VX
NK
F9
G4


There have been bankruptcies in the US before and after, and some have survived those, some not. Who would have survived depends on the choices made by their management and by the government, as well as external factors (late deliveries, unions, accidents etc). My guess (AA, WN, CO, NK, F9) is no better than yours.
 
OneAA
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:38 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:47 pm

HPRamper wrote:
Sure, they would have survived, but several would have been only marginally profitable if at all and we would have seen more bankruptcies. Thinking of it only from consumer point of view seems inherently selfish to me - you want your cheap tickets and comfortable seats but you don't give a crap if the company is financially solvent. I'm not just talking about shareholders making money, that's being able to give employees raises and offer benefits, etc.

Agree with this quote. All would have survived, but IMO, Northwest would be limping along. They were having some serious money issues prior to the DL merger.
 
HPRamper
Posts: 5027
Joined: Sat May 14, 2005 4:22 am

Re: If the industry didn't consolidate, who would've survived?

Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:20 am

OneAA wrote:
HPRamper wrote:
Sure, they would have survived, but several would have been only marginally profitable if at all and we would have seen more bankruptcies. Thinking of it only from consumer point of view seems inherently selfish to me - you want your cheap tickets and comfortable seats but you don't give a crap if the company is financially solvent. I'm not just talking about shareholders making money, that's being able to give employees raises and offer benefits, etc.

Agree with this quote. All would have survived, but IMO, Northwest would be limping along. They were having some serious money issues prior to the DL merger.

Let's not forget about US Airways, however...I think they may have actually liquidated. America West was also pretty much treading water before the US merger and who knows where they would be now as a niche PHX-based carrier. They may have had to go the ULCC route like F9 did at DEN.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 30 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos