Monday, 31 October 2011
As a continuation of my previous post on Qatar Airways possible acquisition of a stake in Spanair, here are some interesting questions that come to my mind when thinking about the possible consequences of this deal:
1) What is going to happen with Spanair's current Star Alliance membership and how is this going to affect the agreements Spanair had with Star partners on several routes, some of were of strategic importance to the carrier, such as Singapore-Barcelona-Sao Paulo.
2) What designs has Qatar Airways for the new Spanair and what degree of control would be able to exert? Is this a purely financial operation, with Qatar Airways limiting itself to turn the company around and making it a stronger stand-alone carrier? Or are we witnessing the first act of a much more ambitious project aimed at building a presence in Europe (possibly by acquiring other troubled European airlines). If the latter turns out to be the case, it would be interesting to know what is Qatar Airways plan: a feeder operation involving a transit through Barcelona from Southern Europe regional airports and onto the Gulf does not seem to fit into the global-connector strategy Qatar Airways is developing through its Doha hub. Or maybe using Spanair to code-share on flights beyond Europe, as Singapore Airlines is already doing with Spanair? or build a base in Barcelona to fly from there to destinations in America, along the lines of what Indian carrier Jet Airways tried to do in Brussels?
In any case, Qatar Airways is gaining access to a large and recently renovated airport, with plenty of spare capacity and a geographical position that makes it a suitable gateway to Europe and beyond when flying from the Gulf.
3) Another interesting question that comes up these days is: will Spanair keep its name? rumours are its name is going to be changed to Air Barcelona or Barcelona Airlines. I am, personally, not a big fan of airlines named after cities, but this change would possibly make sense, since the Spanair brand does not enjoy a particularly strong recognition, whereas "Barcelona" is certainly a powerful brand (coincidentally or not, the Emirate of Qatar is also sponsoring FC Barcelona and another of the World's emerging airlines kicked off its European brand building campaign by associating itself with Barcelona's name)
In any case, I will be posting more analysis as soon as more news will come out soon, as Spanair's current situation is hardly sustainable...watch this space!