We have recently seen the 14th anniversary since that fateful day in September 2001. The day that changed the airline landscape, as we knew it forever.
It is astonishing to imagine that flagship carriers around the world, but especially in the US no longer exist in their own entity. Who would have though ten years ago that we would not be seeing the likes of Northwest, Continental, US Airways and America West in the skies? All these airlines have been absorbed by or merged with other carriers to form even larger ones. These weren’t just “fly by night” start-ups. These were huge carriers in their own right. Some of the biggest airlines on the face of the planet.
This change in the landscape of the airline industry is not only confined to the USA. In Europe, we have seen the merging of Air France and KLM to form one of the largest carriers around. Just today, the pin was pulled on Russia’s second largest carrier, Transaero, sending a procession of aircraft to storage in Spain. Just after September 11, the 14th to be exact, Ansett Australia was grounded due to lack of funds which saw the carrier confined to history in March the following year. We are talking about one of only TWO major airlines in Australia at the time. Gone, just like that. In the blink of an eye. I was actually on the Gold Coast that day, due to fly back to Melbourne with Ansett. It was chaos until I was welcomed aboard a QANTAS 747 at Brisbane Airport to do an “East Coast Hop” – Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne.
On the US front, airlines are continuing to struggle with bankruptcy protection yet, Sir Richard Branson can forge a major market share with Virgin America. Maybe brand has a lot to do with it. Sir Richard Branson could sell sand in the Sahara under the Virgin brand and turn a profit, such is the strength of the Virgin brand.
So, what next for the airline industry? Will we ever see a return to the days where a hot meal would be given on a short, one hour hop between say Melbourne and Sydney? I doubt it. not in these days of cost cutting just to even keep aircraft in the sky. One thing is for certain though. The airline landscape has changed forever. Shame really.