Airlines Have $40-50 Mil. in Play

New Alliance Looking Beyond Current Shops
NEW YORK–A consortium of domestic and international airlines, reportedly dubbed the “Wings Alliance,” has contacted several New York shops regarding an account whose spending may run as high as $40-50 million, sources said.
The alliance, likely comprised of Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Alitalia and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is still being formed. But that has not stopped participants from agency discussions, sources said.
Lead shops for the airlines, including N.W. Ayer & Partners in New York, which handles Continental, and Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, which works with Northwest, have been excluded so the partners can land a “neutral” agency, sources said.
The review is being handled by Richard Metzner, vice president of marketing programs at Houston-based Continental, said sources.
Metzner declined to comment.
Continental and Northwest aligned their operations in November 1997 and Northwest bought a chunk of Continental in a deal that closed last month. KLM and Alitalia formed a pact of their own in November, partly to build a European multihub system. Air France has also been mentioned in connection with the alliance.
Under terms of the agreement, the consortium would enable the airlines to operate more efficiently and give their customers new benefits, such as transferable air miles. Members could also share routes and other amenities.
The new alliance would be the third such entity, after the Star Alliance, which includes United Airlines, and the One World group, which includes American Airlines.
–with staff reports