12 March 2008 | Paul Snell
The benefits of alliances between airlines are difficult to measure, according to travel buyers.
A survey of 165 purchasers by the Institute of Travel Management (ITM) found 75 per cent of buyers said they could not quantify the benefit of these alliances to travellers or companies.
And 50 per cent of buyers said they were confused by brands and which airlines they represent.
Airline alliances, such as the Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld, bring airlines together to offer benefits such as reduced costs, frequent-flyer programmes and easier transfers.
Colin Goldney, managing director of Argate Consulting, who carried out the research for ITM, said there was a huge opportunity for alliances to offer efficiencies for buyers, but they should examine what benefits they offer to the business market.
According to the survey not a single buyer negotiates directly with an alliance. More than half of buyers negotiate directly with airlines, but often find cheaper fares through other channels.
Paul Tilstone, executive director of the ITM, said: "The drive to increase load factors, work with cleaner fuels, reduce the impact of the cost of those fuels and the effects of Open Skies should mean that the alliances play a more important role in streamlining costs and services and that the travel buyer recognises this."