1997 at a glance

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January

Boeing and McDonnell Douglas announce plans for a $13.3 billion merger.

Norwegian travel agents threaten to sue SAS over plans to reduce commissions.

Delta Air Lines winds down its Frankfurt hub, ending its intra-European services.

Swissair, Austrian, Sabena and Delta establish a revenue pool on the North Atlantic.

A French commercial tribunal approves British Airways' plan to take over troubled carrier Air Liberté.

Philippine Airlines secures a four-year deal with its unions.

A new government blocks Thai Airways' restructuring and delays plans for a new airport in Bangkok.

Iata wins an injunction against proposed lower noise limits at London's airports.

February

The European Commission orders Alitalia to find further cost savings to secure approval of its planned capital injection.

KLM and Lufthansa announce separate plans to cut domestic travel agency commissions.

The five Mercosur nations agree to permit new third and fourth freedom services without bilateral negotiation.

US President Bill Clinton intervenes to halt the pilots strike at American Airlines.

Frontier Airlines complains to the US Department of Justice over alleged antitrust violations by United Airlines.

The US Congress votes to reinstate the 10 per cent ticket tax.

China Eastern holds a US$250 million initial public offeringin Hong Kong and New York.

The White House commission on aviation safety and security says that the commercial aviation accident rate must be reduced by 80 per cent by 2005.

March

Lufthansa and Swissair appoint US nationals Frederick Reid and Jeffrey Katz as president/chief operating officer and chief executive officer, respectively.

Virgin Atlantic says it will switch US partners from Delta to Continental.

Venezuela and Iberia agree to put Viasa into liquidation.

April

Air France's preliminary takeover of Air France Europe sparks strike threats.

American reaches a compromise with its pilots over wage increases and regional jets.

Singapore Airlines is barred from taking a 40 per cent share in a joint venture with Tata Industries, due to a ban on foreign airline investments in Indian carriers.

Delta Air Lines signs a $6.7 billion 20-year sole supplier deal with Boeing.

US startup Pan Am agrees to acquire Carnival Airlines.

US secretary of transportation Rodney Slater overturns a DOT ruling against a rise in airport fees at Miami to fund the new terminal.

Dublin-based Ryanair cuts travel agency commissions from 9 to 7.5 per cent.

Austrian Airlines takes a 36 per cent stake in Lauda Air, including 19.7 per cent purchased from Lufthansa.

The US signs its first Asian open skies pact with Singapore, and initials similar deals with Taiwan and Brunei.

May

The US Federal Aviation Administration introduces overflight fees for non-US carriers.

United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada, SAS and Thai International launch the Star Alliance with codesharing and integrated customer benefits.

Six Central American countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama - sign USopen skies accords.

A consortium led by Amsterdam/Schiphol airport buys Brisbane airport, while the UK's BAA is part of a winning bid for Melbourne.

The European Commission rejects Alitalia's US$1.8 billion planned capital injection under market investor principles, classing it as state aid.

The European Commission drafts legislation in another bid to secure the Council of Ministers' approval for direct external competence.

Gulf Air finally gets a $200 million capital injection from its owner states in the form of a loan.

Dublin-based Ryanair lists 35 per cent of its shares on the Dublin and New York stock exchanges.

Three of the industry's longest serving airline presidents resign: Delta Air Lines' Ron Allen, All Nippon Airways' Seiju Fukatsu, and KLM's Pieter Bouw.

Fairchild Dornier launches its 328JET programme.

June

The US Senate subcommittee on aviation holds hearings on the proposed alliance between British Airways and American Airlines.

British Aerospace ceases making the Jetstream 41.

Airbus Industrie Asia establishes a joint venture with Aviation Industries of China and Singapore Technologies to manufacture the proposed AE316/317.

The UK Department of Transport bans Nigerian-registered aircraft from the UK, and Nigeria retaliates by banning British flights.

The revival of the Venezuelan carrier Aeropostal is threatened by a legal battle over the airline's assets.

Mexico's third airline, Taesa, is rescued by the injection of $10 million in capital by a Singapore-based consortium.

The TAM group wins the right to launch Brazil's fourth international carrier and plans a daily Sao Paulo-Miami service.

The Indian civil aviation minister revives plans to merge Air-India and Indian Airlines.

Chinese provincial carrier Hainan Airlines issues a $41 million public offering on the Shanghai stock exchange.

Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Ansett Australia announce a tripartite alliance linkup.

American Eagle splits its regional jet order between Embraer and Bombardier.

British Airways announces a controversial new corporate identity.

July

Jane Garvey is nominated to head up the US Federal Aviation Administration.

A cabin crew strike and the threat of action by ground staff force British Airways to negotiate cost saving measures with the Transport and General Workers' Union.

The European Commission approves a $1.8 billion state aid package for Alitalia, subject to strict conditions.

American Airlines buys 10 per cent of Interinvest, the majority shareholder of Aerolineas Argentinas, while Iberia cuts its stake from 20 to 10 per cent.

Both American and its would-be partner BA enter exploratory talks for an alliance with Iberia.

Washington clears the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger and the European Commission follows suit, subject to Boeing not enforcing sole supplier contracts.

Britannia Airways plans to launch a German charter subsidiary in May 1998.

KLM and Northwest settle their poison pill dispute by agreeing that KLM will sell its 19 per cent stake back to Northwest to allow further expansion of the alliance.

Formal bilateral negotiations resume between the USand Japan.

China Southern offers 35 per cent of its shares in New York and Hong Kong.

Mergers are announced by US low costs Valujet/AirTran Airlines and Frontier/ Western Pacific Airlines.

August

Lufthansa and Finnair agree to end their six-year alliance.

United Parcel Service is hit by its first strike over pay and part time jobs.

Debonair raises $41.9 million from its flotation on the Easdaq secondary market.

The Galileo computer reservations system raises $784 million in an IPO.

Peru becomes the first Latin American country to regain Category 1 status under USFAA regulations.

September

France's new socialist government rules out the sale of a majority stake in Air France, whose president Christian Blanc resigns.

US low cost carrier Air South enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid calls for action against US majors' predatory behaviour, access to slot-controlled airports and less FAA intervention.

American/Japan Airlines and Delta /All Nippon Airways plan tie-ups in anticipation of a US-Japan accord.

The US DOT finally launches its review of the planned BA/American link.

KLM buys 30 per cent of Norway's Braathens Safe.

Swissair signs an alliance deal with TAP Air Portugal.

BA reaches agreement with its main cabin crew union.

Northwest Airlines cuts domestic advance-purchase fares by up to 40 per cent.

Italian charter Air Europe plans to raise $45 million for expansion from an IPO.

Shanghai Airlines wins approval for international flights in competition with China Eastern.

Swissair signs a codeshare deal with Global Excellence partner SIA's strong rival, Malaysia Airlines.

As Indonesia's currency crisis bites, privately owned Sempati shelves 10 domestic and four regional routes.

ILFC places orders worth $8.5 billion with Airbus and Boeing.

Sun Air is sold to a South African consortium led by Comair.

October

The US DOT starts to publish regular fares data and says it will open up slot-restricted airports and act against predatory behaviour.

Hearings are scheduled by the European Commission on a 1993 complaint from Virgin against BA's corporate discounts and travel agent policy.

The German Government sells its remaining 37.5 per cent stake in Lufthansa.

The German antitrust authority compels Lufthansa to open its FFP to domestic rivals.

US Airways reaches a deal with its pilots enabling the airline to grow.

Western Pacific and Frontier call off their merger and West Pac files for Chapter 11.

Cathay Pacific's traffic slumps, hit by Hong Kong's handover and the currency and environmental crises.

Jamaica is returned to US FAA Category 1 status.

Embraer launches its 37-seat jet, later named the ERJ.135.

November

A government proposal for stringent noise restrictions threatens future growth at Amsterdam/Schiphol.

Paris-based Fairlines launches Europe's first dedicated business class service.

Geneva-based startup Swiss World Airways starts service to the US.

Saab says it will stop manufacturing regional aircraft.

Varig joins the Star alliance.

Sabena signs a deal with City Bird to codeshare on three long-haul routes.

Nine European carriers complain to the Commission that Alitalia is being favoured by rules for the transfer of routes to the new Milan/Malpensa airport.

Boeing shuts down its 747 and 737 production lines to enable suppliers to catch up.

The four Airbus partners agree to form a limited company by early 1999.

Gulf Air and Kuwait Airways divest their stakes in Jet Airways after India confirms its ban on foreign carrier investments.

Dragonair parent CNAC postpones its IPO following the crash of the Hong Kong stock market.

Hong Kong's new Chek Lap Kok airport slices 25-40 per cent from its planned fees.

SIA cancels its Global Excellence alliance with Swissair/Delta and signs a strategic partnership with Star Alliance member Lufthansa.

BA reveals plans to launch a low-cost airline at London/ Stansted, dubbed Blue Sky.

Virgin Express raises $96.3 million from its initial public offering.

LanChile raises $135 million from its IPO in New York and Santiago.

December

Alitalia signs a memorandum of understanding to ally itself with KLM.

Brazil's supreme court awards Transbrasil $500 million in damages arising from government fare freezes.

China Eastern completes its first domestic offering, raising $86.8 million on the Shanghai exchange.

The new Thai prime minister revives plans to build a new airport in Bangkok by 2003.

Australia clears extended codeshare rights by BA and Qantas between London and Australia.

Cintra, the holding company for Aeromexico and Mexicana, comes under pressure to separate the airlines as part of a stock offering.

AIR abandons its proposed Airjet 70 programme.

Trinidad & Tobago is returned to US FAACategory 1 status.

Jacqueline Gallacher