United Airlines CEO, Glenn Tilton, stated he expects that the growing alliance trend is bringing airlines close together to the point that they may consolidate by merger (Chicago Tribune, 25-Jan-2010). His airline has been involved in most merger speculation which sees Continental Airlines merging with United. Tilton, along with US Airways, is well known to be in favour of more airline mergers. During recent conferences in December, analysts asked each CEO about the prospect for mergers in 2010. For its part, Continental has stuck to being independent, but left the door open depending on how competitive Delta is now that it has absorbed Northwest.
United's Tilton expects mergers by 2012
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For the first time ever in Europe, in 2016 a low cost airline carried more passengers than any other airline or airline group, as Ryanair's 117 million passengers pushed Lufthansa Group's 110 million into second place. Ryanair had beaten Lufthansa itself, but not the whole Lufthansa Group. IAG's first full year of including Aer Lingus helped it to take third place from Air France-KLM. Europe's number two LCC, easyJet, was ranked fifth.
The big five can be expanded into a big seven to include Turkish Airlines and the Aeroflot Group, although these two had contrasting growth rates in 2016. A chasing pack of middle sized airline groups includes three LCCs (Norwegian, Pegasus and Wizz Air) and three legacy airlines with varying challenges to establishing sustainable profitability (SAS, Air Berlin Group and Alitalia).
Most of the faster growing airline groups in the top 20 are LCCs and the main growth drivers for Europe's big three legacy groups are their LCC subsidiaries. Just outside the top 20 are some fast growing legacy airlines in Eastern Europe, demonstrating the potential there. Nevertheless, unless there is a big merger or acquisition, Ryanair looks set to remain at number one for some time.
Optimism, uncertainty and cost pressures offer an unpredictable mix for 2017
A sense of optimism prevailed among North American airlines as 2016 draws to a close. It is driven by the beginning of stabilised pricing in the US domestic market and an improved outlook for Western Canada after a marked drop in oil prices triggered a collapse in demand.