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Increasingly, more of those legacy airlines are recognizing that they will not be able to curtail the growth of Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. Attempts to fend Persian Gulf carriers off have included limiting traffic rights, lodging complaints about state subsidization, and filing arguments against export credit support, citing unfair competition. None of the strategies worked, partly because European and Asian carriers certainly also have benefited from subsidies. Now the idea seems to be: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
But there is another underlying trend that must have all the alliances worried: Most carriers seem to prefer strong bilateral ties over the global groups that are sometimes too restrictive in allowing their members other partnerships and too demanding in terms of integration of sales tools.