How industry change has affected European airlines: Development of profitability and capital structure year 2000-2008

The invention of the airplane is one of few inventions that have changed how people live and experience the world. The airline industry of today functions in a very intense and competitive market and is also very sensitive to change. Over the last years the airline industry has changed and been affected drastically. Factors like sudden shocks, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11th in 2001 and the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) phenomenon in China 2003, change in macroeconomic factors, such as GDP growth in different regions, changes in the oil price and fluctuations in exchange rates, and also by the fact that the airline industry have experienced a general change in structure and trends. A consequence of these shocks and general industry changes, also made worse by the ongoing financial crisis and escalation of fuel price many airlines have lost a significant part of their market value. The fact that during a normal year around eight airlines in the world go bankrupted but that Sterling became the 31st in 2008 strengthens this statement.

Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how industry change has affected the profitability and capital structure of European airlines, individually and in comparison with each other.


1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem and research questions
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Selections and delimitations
1.5 Perspective
2 Frame of reference
2.1 Industry overview
2.1.1 Deregulation of the European airline industry
2.1.2 Important events and changes in relevant macroeconomic factors 2000 – 2008
2.1.3 LCC vs. traditional airlines
2.2 Industry change and Porter’s Five Forces
2.2.1 Rivalry Among Existing Competitors
2.2.2 Threat of new entrants Rivalry Among Existing Competitors and Threat of new entrants applied to the airline industry
2.2.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers Bargaining Power of Suppliers applied to the airline industry
2.2.4 Bargaining Power of Buyers Bargaining Power of Buyers applied to the airline industry
2.2.5 Threat of Substitute Products or Services Threat of Substitute Products or Services applied to the airline industry
2.3 Ratio analysis
2.3.1 Different purposes of ratio analysis
2.4 The ratios chosen for this thesis
2.4.1 Traditional financial ratios Liquidity Current ratio Quick ratio Indebtedness Debt-equity ratio Profitability Profit margin Return on equity (ROE)
2.4.2 Industry specific ratios Available seat kilometers (ASK) Revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) Passenger Load Factor (PLF)
3 Method
3.1 Primarily chosen research area
3.2 Research approach
3.3 Qualitative and quantitative approach
3.4 Primary and secondary data
3.5 Data collection and literature search
3.6 Model for observation
3.7 Interview
3.8 Reliability and validity
3.9 Comparability
3.10 Methodological problems
3.11 Source criticism
4 Empirical findings and analysis
4.1 The airlines
4.1.1 British Airways
4.1.2 Finnair
4.1.3 Iberia
4.1.4 Lufthansa
4.1.5 EasyJet
4.1.6 Ryanair
4.2 Comparative analysis of the different airlines
4.3 Analysts’ viewpoints on the current crisis and the future outlook
for the industry
4.3.1 Chris Tarry – Aviation Industry Research and Analysis
4.3.2 Anders Lidman
4.3.3 Helen Jakobsson
4.3.4 Comparative analysis of the analysts’ viewpoints
5 Conclusion
5.1 Critique
5.2 Further research

Author: Hourani, Rayan,Helander, Anna

Source: Jönköping University

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