The impact of COVID could see the move to a more consolidated European aviation market begin to accelerate. KLM boss Pieter Elbers has already led his airline through the first steps of consolidation, teaming up with Air France in 2004. Elbers believes that, in Europe, the market will look very much like the US in 10 years.
COVID will spur consolidation
While many would agree that the European aviation market is ripe for consolidation, in some parts, it has begun to happen already. One of the airlines that has led the way on this is Dutch flag carrier KLM, under the control of CEO Pieter Elbers.
Now, with COVID curtailing opportunities to make a profit, could there be more strength in numbers? Speaking at Eurocontrol’s ‘Hard Talk’ session recently, the KLM boss was clear about the direction he expected European aviation to take. He commented,
“Europe is lagging behind some 10 years compared to the US in terms of industry consolidation. If we look at how the US looks today, probably that’s how the EU will look 10 years from now.“
In the US, the four biggest airlines – Delta, American, Southwest, and United – between them control around two-thirds of the aviation market. Add in JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, and that share goes up to more than three quarters. But it wasn’t always that way.
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