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Photo of Alan Glen, SPAA PresidentPresident's Column

The ever changing dynamics in the Airline World.....
 
 
Richard Branson recently announced the sale of 31 per cent of Virgin Atlantic to KLM/AF for £220M, effectively giving up control of his beloved airline.

It's a big move for him personally, but also an indicator of the way that the airline business is heading at the moment. Consolidation and alliances resulting in bigger airlines with very few smaller independently run airlines able to compete with their giant rivals.

Is that a good thing for the customer or travel trade? That remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see if Virgin Atlantic is 'swallowed up' by Delta and KLM/AF who already have their own alliance of sorts. By that I mean all the innovative and quirky things that made Virgin Atlantic one of the best loved independent airlines in Britain.

Virgin Atlantic will no doubt benefit from the 'feed' that this massive network can provide, but will their partners benefit and adopt some of the features and service aspects that set Virgin Atlantic apart from the competition?

On the other side of that equation, we have British Airways who recently announced their intentions to create a '2 tier' airline - budget at the back of the aircraft to compete with the likes of low cost carriers Ryanair and Norwegian, whilst investing £400m in the front cabin to keep their premium customers happy.

It's a bold move by CEO Alex Cruz and to be honest, it's hasn't exactly been warmly embraced by the legions of BA customers who regularly travel in economy for business or leisure, many of whom are now probably wondering if they really should consider flying on the low cost option.  It's a difficult one, but there you are - you make your (flat) bed and you lie in it - the first year figures will no doubt determine the merits of that decision.

Closer to home, United Airlines recently announced that it was pulling out of the Glasgow to Newark route over the forthcoming winter period. Sadly, it's the first time since the service began 19 years ago that it has not operated on a year round basis.

Although it is a big blow to the Scottish airline sector, it is a fact of life and business that if something is not paying its way, then it is probably better to make a decision sooner rather than later on it's future. Of course we are sad to see it go, but remember it's not gone forever - they are bringing the service back to Glasgow early in the 2018 summer season. 

We would like to thank United Airlines for their continued support and commitments in the Scottish market.
 
 
Alan Glen SPAA President
09 August 2017
 
 
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