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达美千万不要收购维珍

达美千万不要收购维珍

Cyrus Sanati 2012年12月07日
这笔交易有可能危害达美航空的市场,违反达美与欧洲合作伙伴签订的反垄断协议,同时还要烧掉大量的金钱。另外,它还会使达美面临更严格的政府监管,而且维珍航空的当家人理查德·布兰森也不是什么省油的灯,这笔交易弊大于利。因此,珍爱股东和乘客,远离维珍大西洋航空。

    达美航空(Delta)谋求收购维珍大西洋航空(Virgin Atlantic)之举可能是个天大的错误。虽说投资一家航空公司在任何时候都是有风险的,不过在今天看来,与维珍大西洋航空联姻对于达美航空来说显得尤其不明智。这笔交易有可能危害达美航空的市场,并且违反达美航空与欧洲合作伙伴签订的反垄断协议,同时在这个过程中又会花掉大量现金。另外,这起收购还会给达美航空带来两重额外的威胁,首先它会面临更严格的政府监管,同时维珍航空的创始人、充满传奇色彩的理查德·布兰森爵士也不是省油的灯,因此这笔交易的风险大于任何它可能带来的利益。

    新加坡航空公司(Singapore Airlines)本周一在一份简短的声明中宣布,将出售其持有的维珍航空49%的股份。消息传出,市场并没有太过惊讶。新航与维珍航空的合作始于1999年,不过由于新航的这笔投资赔得很惨,因此新航不得不在财报中一再把这笔股份的价值写低。一开始这些股份的市值为16亿美元,到了今年,其价值基本已接近为零。

    至于新加坡航空与维珍的联姻为何以失败告终,坊间总结的各种原因很多。新航希望通过这笔投资能够使它在航空业最有钱赚的领域——也就是美国和欧洲之间的洲际航班上占有一席之地。不过双方都未能达成任何有意义的合作协议来实现这个目标。实际上,双方真正实现班号共用还是去年的事,而这种合作10年之前就应该开始了。

    多年寻找下家无果后,新航的恶梦或许终于可以结束了。因为达美航空对维珍航空抛出了橄榄枝。维珍航空最吸引人的资产是它的跨大西洋航线。它十分有利可图,尤其是纽约飞伦敦的航线。维珍航空在伦敦的希思罗机场拥有一些极有价值的机位,早已令达美航空觊觎已久。一般认为,维珍航空会将这些机位转让给达美航空,让达美借助这家英国航空公司的力量,把它的帝国版图扩展到欧洲。

    对达美航空来说,这似乎是理所应当的做法,但这笔交易的麻烦其实很可能大于它的价值。首先,如果达美航空想在希思罗机场更有作为,它还不如从另一家航空公司那里买机位,因为那样更便宜也更容易。何况维珍航空为什么要把它的机位转让给达美航空呢?德勤会计师事务所(Deloitte)指出,与大多数媒体报道的恰恰相反,维珍航空在希思罗机场的机位并没那么多,它只拥有该机场3%到5%的机位,并且全部自用,而且大多数航线也是达美航空自己也运营的航线。不妨问问新加坡航空从维珍航空那里获得了多少个机位——答案是零。最近新加坡航空需要在希思罗机场为一趟新航班配置一个机位,结果它还是从南非航空(South African Airways)那里买的。

    至于旅客转机的情况又如何呢?有人认为维珍和达美应实现班号共用,让维珍航空的旅客在约翰肯尼迪机场直接转机搭乘达美的航班,反过来达美的旅客也可以在希思罗机场直接转乘维珍的航班。不过你在希思罗机场转过机吗?这个机场总是人满为患,旅客每次转机都要遭一回罪。而且,如果你认为维珍航空的创始人理查德·布兰森爵士会让从田纳西州来的美国旅客进他那位于希思罗机场3号航站楼的专用“俱乐部”休息室里等候转机吗?事实上,就连新加坡航空公司的头等舱旅客也进不去。

    Delta could be making a big mistake pursuing Virgin Atlantic. While investing in an airline is a risky venture at any time, a tie-up with Virgin today looks particularly bad for the Atlanta-based carrier. The deal could jeopardize Delta's marketing and anti-trust agreements with its European partners, while burning up a bunch of cash in the process. In addition, Delta would have to deal with the twin threats of increased government scrutiny on one hand, and Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson's larger-than-life ego on the other, outweighing any benefit that could come from such a deal.

    The markets weren't too surprised Monday when Singapore Airlines released a terse statement that it has entered talks to sell its 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic. The partnership that began in 1999 between the two airlines had become so unprofitable that Singapore was forced to write down the value of its stake in Virgin from S$1.6 billion to basically zero this year.

    There is plenty of blame to go around as to why Singapore wasn't able to make its venture with Virgin work. Singapore hoped the partnership would help it gain a foothold in the most profitable segment in the airline business – the transatlantic route between the U.S. and Europe. But both parties failed at executing any meaningful partnership agreements to allow that to happen; in fact, it was only last year that the two started codesharing their flights, something that should have happened a decade ago.

    But after years of fruitlessly searching for a buyer, Singapore's long, Richard Branson-fueled nightmare could be coming to an end. Enter Delta Air Lines (DAL). Virgin's allure remains its lucrative Trans-Atlantic routes, specifically the New York to London route. Virgin has a number of extremely valuable landing "slots" at Heathrow Airport, which Delta covets. The conventional view here is that Virgin will transfer those slots to Delta, allowing it to expand its empire in the only other major European player.

    While some see this as a "no-brainer," for Delta, any deal actually looks to be more trouble than it's worth. First, if Delta wants greater access to Heathrow, it would be cheaper and easier to just buy some slots from another airline, preferably one that it doesn't compete against. Why would Virgin turn over any of it slots to Delta, anyway? Contrary to most media reports, Virgin isn't some Heathrow gold mine slot machine, it only controls around 3% to 5% of them and uses all of them, mostly on routes that Delta already serves, according to Deloitte. Just ask Singapore how many slots it got from its deal with Virgin: zero. Indeed, when Singapore recently needed a slot pair for a new flight out of Heathrow it was forced to buy them from South African Airways.

    But what about connecting passengers? The thinking here is that Virgin Atlantic and Delta could codeshare flights to let Virgin passengers connect to points in the US out of JFK Airport on Delta, while Delta passengers could do the same on Virgin flights out of Heathrow. Have you ever connected through Heathrow to another destination? To save you the misery, the airport is always stuffed to capacity, making connecting a terrible experience for passengers. And if you think Sir Richard Branson is going to let Delta passengers from Chattanooga into his exclusive "clubhouse" lounge in Heathrow's Terminal 3, you better think again. Not even first class passengers on Singapore Airlines can gain entry.

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