The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) recently surveyed its travel manager members about potential airline consolidation prior to the official Delta-Northwest merger announcement. Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated that further consolidation of the U.S. airline industry by 2009 was “inevitable.” Only 22 percent saw such consolidation of the domestic airline industry as a positive development for the business travel community.
A majority responded that a merger of Delta and Northwest would create an improved international route structure (53 percent), a more financially stable airline (46 percent) and a stronger, more convenient U.S. route structure (35 percent), than either of the two carriers on its own. However, they believed that the merger would negatively affect customer service (54 percent), access to smaller U.S. markets (46 percent), flight schedules and frequencies (41 percent) and corporate account management (40 percent).
The respondents foresee that there will be consolidation between U.S. and foreign carriers within five years and 43 percent see this consolidation as being positive for the business travel industry. Survey participants responded similarly regarding a possible Continental-United merger with 37 percent believing that the airlines’ financial stability will improve and 50 percent believing that customer service would decline. However, since the survey, Continental has made public it does not intend to merge with United.