The US airline industry may be on the verge of a new wave of consolidation through major alliances rather than mergers and acquisitions.

Speculation of pending marketing alliances was fuelled by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that US Airways is again in talks with both United Airlines and American Airlines over a possible alliance.

The airlines have refused to discuss any negotiations, but Darryl Jenkins, director of the Aviation Institute, says it is safe to assume that the high level talks were triggered by the decision of Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines in January to forge a strategic alliance. US Airways also holds a key to the balance of power between United and American at the Chicago O'Hare hub. Delta Air Lines may also enter the fray, having been rebuffed by Continental.

Jenkins warns, however, that it is "too tough to call" whether such alliances will win approval from government authorities.

Meanwhile, US Airways says no decision has been reached on widebody aircraft to expand its transatlantic services. Selection of either a Boeing or Airbus widebody twinjet was expected in February. The US carrier already operates a dozen Boeing 767s, and is believed to be ready to order between 12 and 15 new widebody aircraft.

Source: Flight International