The first 30+ days of the year see airline changes across the globe. On January 27, Spanair, HQ’d in Barcelona, abruptly shutdown leaving many passengers stranded. This past weekend, Malev, the Hungarian state airline shuttered operations as well. Air India, is also having trouble paying it’s fuel bills which is causing some flights to be delayed or cancelled. American Airlines files for bankruptcy shows airline problems are not limited to just the US. Plus, a slate of mergers in early 2012 are on the horizon as well. BMI, is being sold by Lufthansa to British Airways with the sale set to close at the end of March. TAM in Brazil and LAN in Chile, hope to tie up their merger in the same timeframe, now that both Chile and Brazil have approved the marriage.
Beyond the airlines, the major airline alliances are caught in the ripple effect. Oneworld, loses Malev. Star Alliance loses Spanair and more than likely loses BMI when there merger with Oneworld’s, BA is complete. Everyone is waiting to see who the alliance winner will be when TAM (currently Star Alliance) and LAN (currently Oneworld) officially merge. Both airlines have stated a decision had not yet been made as to which alliance they’ll join.
2012 will continue to be a difficult year for airlines. With the travel season ahead, there are a couple of things to do to protect yourself from this unsettled airline market. Purchase your ticket with a credit card. You’ll at least have a chance on getting your money back from the credit card company. Purchase travel insurance that includes coverage for tour operators and airlines going out of business. Remember, it’s only February. What will happen during the rest of the year?