TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt expert says airline mergers are inevitable

“Airline consolidation is inevitable,” says Michael Lapré, associate professor of management at Vanderbilt University‘s Owen School of Management and an expert on the airline industry. Media reports say UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, is in preliminary talks with Continental Airlines about a possible merger. Lapré says airline mergers are unavoidable and, “a sensible idea to pursue.”

Lapré and Gary Scudder authored the award-winning 2004 paper “Performance Improvement Paths in the U.S. Airline Industry: Linking Trade-offs to Asset Frontiers,” in which they examined 10 airlines over an 11-year period. They looked at quality, based on customer complaints filed with the Department of Transportation and at decisions the airlines made impacting costs. They examined whether airlines could address problems of quality and cost simultaneously. Lapré is also an internationally known expert on organizational learning curves.

Michael Lapré is an operations expert who has conducted extensive research into the airline industry. Lapré is available to discuss the possible merger between Continental and United. To set up an interview with Lapré, call (615) 322-2706 or email him at

Media contact: Amy Wolf, (615) 322-NEWS

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