The past 2 decades saw the number of major airlines in the US cut in half. See how consolidation in the 2000s left customers with fewer options as profits soared.
- The current makeup of the modern-day airline industry is the result of numerous high-profile mergers and acquisitions that took place over the past two decades in the US.
- Consolidation of the nation's airlines saw airlines grow larger than ever and established a new group of dominant carriers including American, United, and Delta.
- With the coronavirus pandemic crippling the industry and airlines asking for bailouts, consumers are asking how the airlines with billion-dollar profits can find themselves in such dire straits.
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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague the global aviation industry, the big three US airlines have all been asking the government for assistance in surviving the downturn, despite each earning billions in profit in previous years.American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines make up the big three as the largest airlines in the country, with 2018 full-year pretax profits of $2.8 billion, $2.7 billion, and $5.1 billion, respectively.Advertisement
Just 20 years ago, the profits weren't as large and the aviation landscape in the US was vastly different, with more names being seen at the nation's airport back then as opposed to today.
The first high-profile airline merger occurred between American Airlines and Trans World Airlines shortly after the turn of the century, kicking off what would be a trend in American aviation as consolidation would take over a weakened industry rocked by the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and the 2008 financial crisis.In the 19 years since the two carriers merged, the US saw eight more mergers and acquisitions shaping the current industry and setting the stage for record profits as some airlines grew larger with each transaction.
The result from years of mergers and acquisitions became three dominant carriers in the US with smaller carriers operating in their shadows and in the gaps, leaving the American public with fewer options.With the US aviation industry on the brink of collapse due to falling demand amid COVID-19 fears, take a look at the most important mergers that shaped our current aviation industry.
2001: American Airlines and Trans World Airlines
2005: America West Airlines and US AirwaysAdvertisement
2008: Southwest Airlines and ATA Airlines
2008: Delta Air Lines and Northwest AirlinesAdvertisement
2009: Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines
2010: United Airlines and Continental AirlinesAdvertisement
2010: Southwest Airlines and Air Tran Airways
2013: American Airlines and US AirwaysAdvertisement
2016: Alaska Airlines and Virgin America
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