Star Alliance in 2020
Formed in 1997, Star Alliance was the first global airline network or constellation. Its aim was to shift the airline industry away from a network of loose bilateral agreements between individual airlines to a more comprehensive network of multilateral agreements between members. A wave of deregulation in the industry in the 1970s and 1980s, which opened free travel between countries, led to the creation of three major global constellations: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. These networks conferred many benefits on their members, such as cost sharing, loyalty program management, and increased flight load. However, in early 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had devastating effects on the airline industry. The focus of airline alliances thus shifted from greater connectivity between members to survival in the new global landscape. Would this strategy help airlines survive the COVID-19 crisis? Was group-based competition needed to thrive during a pandemic? Their main concern was whether or not the powerful frameworks they created would be able to help member airlines survive this crisis and regain their pre-pandemic financial stability. Benjamin Gomes-Casseres is affiliated with Brandeis University. Jacob Judd is affiliated with Brandeis University.