Air Transport World

Common connections: despite bold pronouncements, progress toward developing common IT platforms among alliances remains painfully slow. (IT Alliances).

The development of the information technology required for smoothly functioning networks within airline alliances moved glacially even in good times. Declining airline fortunes have slowed even that progress, although one might have expected an increase in joint projects in such trying times.

A recent SITA survey showed that IT investment generally is down to 2.3% of revenue, below the organization's 1999 survey figure. Alliance IT investment is no different. Gianni Marostica, president of Sabre's airline reservations unit, declares, "The industry has been fickle since 9/11." An analyst observes, "The rate of progress is slower than expected. The [typical] three/four-year [alliance] projects are hard to justify now." Gordon Penfold, GM-business development for information management at British Airways, recalls, "After 9/11, it was imperative to get the core business in order and the projects that go fastest are bilateral [nor multilateral] ones.

Lanyon Inc.'s Nick Lanyon suggests, "In the past, there have been lots of solutions [at least] to fix the secondary effects of alliance operations, though not the basic requirements. More recently, no one has been spending much money at all."

But economic woes aren't the sole reason for the lapse. Richard Eastman of The Eastman Group believes that "cultural barriers between airlines continue to preclude rapid assimilation between various partners, in or out of alliances." He insists, "It is too late for alliances to start from scratch. They must build on what they have. Most of what is taking place is between [two] partners that have particularly strong market needs" and are developing links function by function. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.