Another Installment of
'Last Airline Standing'
There's tons of talk out there on the Internets this weekend describing the marital bliss coming at us between all sorts of suitors in the Big Airline world. It's such a confused mess, I'm not sure if I can sort it out, but I'll try:
According to numerous published reports, there's an announcement possibly coming next week that Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines officially plan to merge. If that happens, many industry insiders think other Bigs such as US Airways will seek full-scale mergers or other types of alliances with competitors. Of course, this news has ramped up the rumor mill that a merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines might be in our future. If THAT happens, American Airlines – the nation's largest carrier – will have their work cut out trying to compete with these new larger carriers.Jeez Louise, anyone keeping score on THAT? I am not a fan of the mega-conglomerate airlines that will be the offspring of these mergers once the airlines consummate their marriages. The reasons are plentiful, but my main fear is this:
So where does airline merger mania end? Let me throw out a scenario that if nothing else, is fun to write: Delta and Northwest become DeltaWest Airlines, and Continental and United become Unitinental Airlines. Southwest and JetBlue feel left out of all the fun, and merge to become BlueWestJetSouth Airlines. American, seeing all this competition coming at them, scoops up Alaska/Horizon to become Amerilaskarizon Airlines. Newcomer Virgin America's owner Richard Branson watches from afar before writing a check to acquire AirTran, Frontier, Air Wisconsin, Mesaba and Spirit, to become VirgiFrontAirTranWisconsabirit Airlines.But after all these mergers, they do not lead to profits, because passenger service deteriorates even further now that the merged lines feel even more powerful and care even less about providing great customer service. To offset the bleeding, more marriages are consummated:
DeltaWest acquires Unitinental to become DelWestUnitinental Airlines, and BlueWestJetSouth buys up Amerilaskarizon and VirgiFrontAirTranWisconsabirit creating BlueWestAVirgimerilaskarizon Airlines. Then when the flying public has had about enough of this merger garbage and revolt by staying home which drives profits into the tank, these two remaining mammath carriers – you guessed it – merge into WeOwnTheSkyAndYouHave2FlyUs Airlines.O.K., let me come back to Earth and get serious. I say, let United, Northwest, Continental and Delta merge all they want! Let them run their fares up and eliminate routes. And we can watch as they go into a management tailspin when hundreds of egomaniac upper managers fight it out to the death for the corner office, each one not willing to give up even a square foot of turf as their lines merge with a carrier that yesterday was the enemy.
Meanwhile, JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America sit back and wait for the new merged lines to implode from within. Once that happens, they can then begin swooping in to fill their rapidly-expanding fleets with happy passengers who are thrilled to avoid the monopolistic mega-carriers that have merged their way into the rubbish pile of aviation history.
Or, we can forget all this merger hogwash altogether, which sounds just fine to me.