Kevin O'toole/LONDON The five contenders in the global alliance race are shown below with their current tally of members and associated carriers, as at mid-June, although further developments were due in July. Also shown are estimated shares of world scheduled passenger traffic for 1999.

Wings is the tentative name (not officially sanctioned) for the emerging alliance of KLM, Northwest Airlines and others. Continental Airlines, KLM and Northwest have had a far-reaching alliance agreement since 1989, with common branding, purchasing, management, marketing and FFP, although an equity stake that KLM had in Northwest was sold after boardroom disagreement over control.

In 1999 Northwest Airlines bought a stake in Continental Airlines, which could give it voting control, although Northwest promised that would be put on hold. They also announced far-reaching co-operation plans, but this has become bogged down in US competition issues and appears to have stalled.

Also in 1998, KLM and Alitalia concluded an alliance agreement, setting up passenger and cargo joint ventures to manage the airlines operations and marketing which now share costs and revenues. Alitalia is also a long-standing codesharing partner of Continental.

However, despite having completed most of the merger arrangements by the end of 1999, KLM terminated its agreement with Alitalia in April this year. The Dutch carrier cited lack of progress in Alitalia's privatisation and in developing the Milan Malpensa hub. KLM is currently in talks with British Airways and the Alitalia merger will be dismantled by August. Codesharing between KLM, Alitalia and Northwest has been abandoned. Negotiations between Continental and KLM are continuing, and both airlines have agreed a framework for co-operating. It is expected that allied airlines of the majors (such as KLM uk, Braathens, Eurowings, Air Europa and Kenya Airways) will eventually be included in the alliance.

Although the global alliances have swallowed up most of the world's top 50 passenger carriers, a number of major groups still remain unaligned. The list above represents the 10 largest which have either not yet committed or, like Southwest, choose to remain independent. Japan Airlines, the largest of the uncommitted, has been linked with oneworld in part due to its partnership with American and others, but its relationships also spread to other of the groupings making it possible that the Japanese giant could still go elsewhere. Malaysia Airlines is in a similar position, being courted by more than one alliance. Alitalia joins the list following its break-up with KLM, although its next move is pending. Other independent carriers such as Virgin Atlantic and South African Airways have been classed as associated with a major alliance since, although they are not captive members, the equity links would make partnership with a rival grouping highly problematic. That is also true of US Airways, which at present is still hoping to complete its proposed merger with United Airlines. That deal could also bring other of the smaller US majors into play.

Notes Associated carriers = Refers to those which have equity links or comprehensive marketing agreements with at least one of the major partners, but which are not closely tied with other alliance groupings. World shares = Estimates only based on Iinternational Civil Aviation Organsiation preliminary world passenger traffic totals for 1999. Total scheduled traffic 2,788 billion RPKs and 1,560 million passengers carried. Revenues = Group revenues including non-flying businesses for the latest reported year 1999 or 2000 fiscal year. Note that Australasian carriers report to end June 1999. Passenger traffic RPK1999 = Mainline scheduled services only excluding regional affiliates. Figures are generally for calender year 1999 except for Australasian carriers (for fiscal year). Also estimates have been used where figures were unavailable. Qualiflyer includes charter carriers. RPK = Revenue Passenger Kilometres 1.609km=1mile.

Source: Airline Business