By IKU KAWACHI School of Communication University of Miami Since the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, a landmark piece of legislation that lifted numerous operating restrictions and allowed the nation’s airlines to compete more freely with each other, some 200 carriers have merged, been taken over, or gone out of business. Within the last five years alone, mergers have taken place between US Airways and America West, Delta and Northwest, United and Continental and, most recently, Southwest and Air Tran. “It tends to happen in bunches, until Washington becomes concerned and tries to block it.” That doesn’t even include the collapses of Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines or the failures of “airlines within airlines,” short-lived divisional brands like Ted (United) and Song (Delta).
Some of the now long-defunct names may sound familiar, especially to those who remember the heyday of the Jet Age: Pan Am. Meanwhile, major carriers have digressed into playing a game of musical chairs with each other, each airline overtaking the last in scale following a merger or corporate partnership.
The performance of these carriers, particularly the midsize and smaller FSCs that don’t fly the more profitable long-haul routes, has been uneven at best.
From 2000 through 2014, Europe’s FSCs racked up a total of $1 billion in aggregate profits but also suffered $12 billion in losses.
This price has been hard beaten by the Brexit result.