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Follow that star

Twenty years is a long time in anyone’s life, but in the aviation industry it feels like a lifetime.

In 1997 airlines like Ryanair and easyJet were essentially regional airlines, not the giant low-cost carriers (LCCs) we see today. Similarly, Gulf carriers were far from morphing into the mega-brands that we now know.

So when five airlines clubbed together to form the first global alliance, critics were quick to write off the idea.


Now, Star Alliance is the biggest in the world with 28 airline members, flying nearly 690 million customers between 190 countries. In 2016 alone total member revenue was $173.94 billion.

Speaking at the group’s anniversary celebrations, CEO Jeffrey Goh said while the alliance may have once focused on recruiting new members, it is now enhancing the customer experience while preparing to deal with any future issues.

And it looks like there are still many hurdles lying ahead to clear. A recent aviation conference focused on where potential future disruption lies, with Google and potential changes to ownership and control rules being the two biggest issues.

At the same time while the Gulf carriers have and continue to disrupt the industry, they too are being put under pressure as the growing LCC long-haul carriers offer direct connections between Europe and Asia. How they react to this and other issues will define the region’s entire future in the market as our ASM report on page 38 reveals.

While Ryanair and easyJet may have transformed from regional airlines into the vast enterprises they have become today, they have simply created new gaps in the market for other airlines to fill. Our report on page 26 shows just how the industry continues to thrive while even Flybe’s CCO is confident the airline is in a good condition as it continues a financial overhaul.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict what will happen in any one year, let alone 20, but Star Alliance’s success story shows that the right idea, backed up with hard work, can certainly ensure the future remains bright.


Edward Robertson

editor, Routes News


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