In our Comment piece in the May issue we talked about the previous month being cruel - it was the month when several carriers went to the wall (Aloha, ATA, Skybus and Oasis Hong Kong).
We went on to say that “as far as the airline industry is concerned it is a month when the cruelty may only have just begun”.
As the summer faded the axe fell on Irish and UK leisure carriers Futura and XL Airways. UK/Canadian carrier Zoom had succumbed a couple of weeks earlier. The list of casualties grows.
September has been a cruel month for these carriers, and there are short odds on more failures in the second half of the month. The most militant unions at Italy’s Alitalia seem pretty determined to cast this noble carrier to the dogs for instance.
September could also go down as the month when consolidation among European carriers moves to the next level.
SAS says it is in “restructuring” talks - most believe with Lufthansa, while rumours have surfaced in the UK that Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is in talks to buy bmi. It has denied these. Here is the original story in UK newspaper The Times suggesting this move.
The former has always seemed like a natural tie-up for these Star partners (which remember each have a stake in bmi by the way). But the latter looks more left field (the name of our colleague David Field’s blog – check it out it’s good).
Our German friends seem to have first call on a lot of carriers at the moment. It is readying a major stake in Brussels Airlines. It is in the running – front-running? – for Austrian Airlines and has cast its eye over Alitalia.
It’s going to be a great week. As they say – stay tuned.