THE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES GROUP’S STRATEGY 13 THEINTERNATIONAL AIRLINES GROUP’S STRATEGY
Executive Summary 3
IAG SWOT Analysis 4
Strategic Options 7
Strategic Choice 13
Implementation Plan 16
Appendix 1: The Safe Model 25
Appendix 2: the strategy process 25
(Introduction).There is a lot of competition both regionally and globally in theairline industry. Most of the airline companies are opting to changetheir method of operation to streamline their flights according thecurrent competitive condition in the industry. The InternationalAirline group is in the league of diversifying and differentiatingits services to take advantages of available opportunities. Thecompany’s SWOT analysis identifies the financial strength of thecompany and the market opportunities that it can venture. These willbe key in counteracting the economic crisis faced by many countriesin Europe. The recommendation is that the group should use itsfinancial well-being to venture into new areas and diversify itsservices, and this would cushion it from stiff competition in theregion and the European financial crisis. (Strategic choice) TheBowman’s clock and Ansoff’s strategy are two methods that wouldgive the company a bright future if applied as choices for thegroup’s strategy. The section recommends the use of Ansoff’sstrategy for its suitability. (Strategic option)The strategic optionidentifies the Ansoff’s strategy through its four pillars, that is,market penetration, market development, product differentiation andservice diversification. Findings settled on market penetration asthe most appropriate strategy for the group and recommended itsimplementation through a plan. The implementation plan of thestrategy involves the identification of objectives to and theidentification of the supportive environment for the strategy.(Implementation plan) The implementation plan also discusses thevarious factors that are likely to affect the strategy like theresource availability, resistance to change, organizational culture,structure, and leadership. The plan recommends a recommends asuitable timeline for the implementation of the activities and themanagement commitment to the plan.
Theairline industry is gradually inclining to the global perspective.Most of the companies in the industries have interests in variousdestinations with most of them eyeing regional markets. Due toincreased competitions most of them develop customized policies todeal with the arising problems and to maximize their profits. TheInternational Airlines Group, commonly abbreviated as IAG is one suchcompany. The company emanated from a merger between the BritishAirways and the Iberia Airways, and the two came together to takecontrol of the individual markets and extend their services to a newarea. Companies use various strategies to develop. A strategy is aplan of action that identifies a list of activities that facilitatethe achievement of a set goal.
Previously,the two companies operated independently with each having a niche.The need to expand and inflate the capital base to deal withchallenge sin the European economy instigated the two companies tocome together and increase their bargain (Merkert & Morrell, 2012P. 855). It is one of the largest in Europe and also the sixthlargest in the world on the basis of returns and market segment. Withover 349 aircrafts, the company reaches to over 200 destinations andit is a choice for many travelers.
Likeall the companies, the airline group has a profiled analysis of thefactors that affects its operations. First, the group enjoys highcapital base since it has stakeholders from two countries, that is,Britain and Spain. Its shares trade in both Britain and Spain andthey are some of the most preferred in the stock market. Secondly, ithas a competitive edge against other companies, and this makes itenjoy a large market segment by reaching out to 200 destinations inEurope. Being the third best performing company in terms of profitand scope in the region, it has a significant control in theindustry.
Aspart of its weaknesses, the company has not integrated a favorableenvironmental control policy. It is sometimes the center of criticismfrom environmental bodies due to tonnes of carbon its jets releaseinto the atmosphere (Budd et al. 2014 P.76).The group has a primeopportunity in the region and the world over due to its financialmuscle.
Theescalating economic crisis in Europe may work well for big companieslike IAG, and it can venture into new areas where other regionalcompanies have not yet reached. The favorable market environment thatfacilitates the entrance of international companies in new marketseither their merger or as autonomous investors is another primeopportunity for the company to ha an international face.
Finally,as part of its threats, the airline group is not averse to theeconomic situation in Europe. There is a reduce need to travel, andmost companies were experiencing reduced profits. Unless the companyintensifies by increasing the number of flights through expansion oftheir operation area, its future prospects of a solid profit patternwill be subject to compromise.
Insummary, the financial strength of the company can be instrumental indealing with the threat of competition and financial crisis byexpanding the market through development. The rationale behind thisis that there is a big opportunity for expansion in the region aspart of globalization. Its reputation in the stock market is likelyto attract new mergers. The strength can also be used to establishcompliance mechanisms to avoid being in the spotlight for pollutingthe environment.
Thereport aims at analyzing the most viable strategy for InternationalAirlines Group and identify the potential strategies to deal with thevarious threats facing it. It will also single out the most favorableand feasible strategy to deal with the identified problem and developan implementation plan for it.
Thereport finds direction in the following objectives
•Toidentify the strengths and opportunities of IAG and how best to applythem to deal with the threats and weaknesses.
•Toanalyze the strategic options faced by IAG and identify the availableopportunities.
•Toidentify the available options from the group’s strategies andsettle for the most convenient.
•Todevelop an implementation plan to the identified strategy.
Theairline industry is becoming dynamic every day. The strategiesemployed by the companies reflect the competitive and challengingnature of the industry (Yu, 2012 P.6). International Airlines Groupis a merger of two big companies. They came together to takeadvantage of the market and explain their area of operation. Theapproaches occur in three perspectives. That is the past, present andthe future.
Inthe past, the two companies experienced the challenges of operatingalone with curtailed efforts of expansion (IAG, 2012 P. 6).Thelimited capital forced the companies to retain the number of flightsin the area of operation without extensions. The British Airways hada small share in the Heathrow airport and did not have a significantshare in the region. The most viable strategy to counter this was tolook for a partner with local significance together institutecross-country flights. Regional flights proved to be more profitablethan the local destinations and the companies from both countriesproved to be mutually beneficial allies (IAG, 2013 P. 8).
Currently,the group has viable prospects of improving its face in the airlineindustry. The current European crisis has forced some companies tolook for stronger companies to shield themselves from losses or toquit altogether (Burghouwt et al., 2014 P. 16). As part of its growthstrategy, the group is absorbing smaller companies to increase itsshare and slots at the different airports. The first company to givewas British Midland International. The company gave up its shares atHeathrow airport and helped IAG to raise its share from 45% to 54%(Lange et al., 2015 P. 9). Besides this, the number of slots given tothe company rose by 11 and consequently increased the number oflanding that airlines belonging to the group could make at theairport. Vueling Airline Company also gave up its share in Barcelonaand gave the group a strong bargaining power in different airportswhere it operated (Pearson & Merkert, 2014 P. 23).
Anotherimportant strategy used by the group to retain and woo more customersis the retention of brand names of the individual companies. TheBritish Airways retain its profile in Britain, and it continues togive the impression to the loyal customers as well as another newtraveler. In Spain, Vueling and Iberia airlines also retained theirprofiles in Spain (Merkert & Morrell 2012 P 854).
Thecompany`s future inclines on the ability of the company to takeadvantage of the emerging situations to develop a cushion effect onits profits. One of the strategies that can work well for the companyis the Bowman’s strategy. The strategy analyzes the competitiveposition of a company in relations to that of its close competitors.It is advantageous in that it focuses on cost and differentiationapproaches to a company’s services. The aspects of the Bowman’sclock can describe the possible prospects for the continued operationof the company. First, cost plays an important role creating a bigmarket share in the industry for any company (Nicolaidis et al., 2012P 679). Since the company has an established market segment, it canreduce it prices to different destinations either through permanentdeduction or as a promotional method of reduced prices occasionally.Such a move will help to avert the tendency of reduced flights orpeople opting for the fairly charged flights by other companies(Gwiazda, 2013 P. 85).
Figure1.The Bowman’s Clock.
Secondly,Bowman recommends the differentiation of services that companiesrender to their clients. IAG can use the strategy of beefing up theirservices by giving them unique look in the industry. The group canintroduce a unique aspect to accompany its array of services toattract customers (Shakhshir, 2014 P 977). Most of the times, theservice do no not significantly change the prices of the servicesrendered. An example would be the introduction of unique crewservices onboard. Focused differentiation would also be imperative inhelping the company retain its position in the industry and possiblyimprove it. The airline can focus on the specialized needs ofdifferent travelers and offer them customized services onboard and inthe various destinations.
However,the strategy focuses on gaining a big market share. It is not veryclear on the effects on the company’s profits. Cost reduction wouldlead to an increased market share but it does not explain whether theprofits would have a sustainable positive trend.
TheAnsoff strategy of development can also work for the good of thecompany. The strategy approaches growth from our main areas, that is,market penetration, market development, product development andproduct diversification. The following table shows what the group isalready doing to improve its position.
What the company has done
An intensive continuous marketing in the countries of operation
What the company has done
Introduction of free WIFI though not in all the aircrafts
Merging with other companies like Vueling and IBM
Provision of customized services to different classes of travelers
Theairline can apply four aspects to deal with various problemsaffecting it. First, the airline needs to penetrate new andunventured markets (Fung, 2014 P. 23).With its large collection ofaircrafts, it has the capability of increasing the destinations tomore than the current 246. The airline group can also intensify itsservices in the established niches through wooing customers to expandthe loyal number. Through the market development, it will earn extraprofits from low-cost efforts since it already enjoys a significantshare of the region (Shaw, 2012. P. 41). As mentioned in the Ansoff’sstrategy, product development is a major input in increasing acompany’s profits. IAG can customize the services to reflect theneeds of different customers. If implemented correctly, the cost ofdelivering the services will be far less than the profits that wouldaccompany it. Lastly, Ansoff proposed diversification of services asa primary strategy towards a company’s success (Prasad, 2014P.45).On this aspect, IAG should focus its services on existing areasand offer personalized flight services as per the demand. The onboardservices should be diversified to meet the needs of differenttravelers and develop a sense of loyalty.
However,the Ansoff’s strategy has various setbacks. First, marketdevelopment increases rivalries in terms of competition. The groupwill intensify the existing competition and this may lead to reducedcosts. Market development is risky in that the new markets have theircustomized challenges. The tendency may have adverse effects on theprojected profits. Product diversification and differentiation mayhave limits since the initial services cannot be changed. Overlydiversified services may be costly to the group.
Inorder for the company to deal with eh internal factors affecting it,it would be prudent to work on its background and identify thecompensatory effects of the factors affecting its operations(Whittington, 2014 P. 18). The TOWs model finds a prime applicationin the case of IAG. From this model, the elements of the SWOTanalysis interact with each other. The model gives a comprehensiveapproach of the group’s SWOT analysis and it points out the variousstrengths that can give the company a better edge over othercompetitors. It also gives shows the possible remedies for weaknessesand threats. The strengths and the opportunities neutralize theeffects of the threats and weaknesses. However, the combinations inthe matrix may not always work towards complementing each other.
High operating profits
Huge capital base
1.poor environmental policies
Growing airline market
Good reputation the industry
The strong financial muscle can take advantage of the available markets.
Good reputation can attract mergers
The opportunity of expanded markets presents an opportunity to adopt the best environmental practices in the various regions and possibly dot the best in the current situation
The European financial crisis
Competition from other companies
Competition is solvable through market expansion.
The financial crisis can be solved by engaging the strong capital base into new markets.
Overcome environmental weakness by applying finances to invest in low pollution fuels
Cushion the effects of the threat through venturing into new markets to widen the customer base.
Marketdevelopment is the best strategy for the company after a carefulanalysis in the SAFE model. The model looks at the suitability andthe acceptability of the strategy. It also analyses the feasibilityof the identified strategy with reference to the projected outcomes. The model is advantageous for the business in that it identifies thestrengths that the company can employ to implement the best strategy.The three qualities identified in this model give a comprehensiveview of whether the strategy can be achieved and also shows itssuitable features. However, it does not give recommendations for theshortcomings of the efforts towards the strategy. Not everythingworks well for the strategy and this does not find a place in themodel.
Figure3: The safe Model
The group’s mission is to consolidate travel both locally and globally. In doing so, the company has to extend its operations to new areas. Under the Ansoff strategy, this will include market development through mergers and foreign investment both in the region and around the globe (Agnihotri, 2013 P. 101).
The stakeholders experience as outlined in the 2014 annual report was the establishment of a sustainable dividend payment (IAG 2014 P.10).Such a condition is only necessary if the profits of the company continue to swell.
Venturing into other markets will bring in profits though it involves risk taking. However, the risk is not unbearable by the group since it has a good financial base to cushion any early possible financial drawbacks.
Market development is viable for the company and its practicality is evidenced by the two airlines it has acquired recently and there is a smooth flow of services.
As of 2014, the group earned a profit of 1.3 billion euro which was a positive trend from 770 million Euros in 2013. The earnings and the capital held by the group will enable it to increase its services in the region and across the globe (IAG 2014 P.12).
Marketdevelopment is therefore the most appropriate approach for the groupto have productive future and settle the effects of threats andweaknesses.
Thisphase involves the activities towards making the preferred strategyideal. The implementation of the market development consists ofvarious activities like marketing the group to acquire new mergers.
Thevision, mission, and values
Thesuitable vision under this strategy is to be a leading air servicesprovider globally. The vision will find support in the vision ofdelivering quality flight services in Europe and the world over. Thevalues for this strategy will find inclination in the major qualitiesthat the group aims at developing. They include
Thestrategy will aim at achieving various objectives
•Toincrease the number of travelers who use the services throughventuring into new destinations.
•Toimprove the services offered by the companies through productdifferentiation and service diversification
•Tointensify and fully exploit the available markets by wooing morecustomers through the delivery of better services.
Policiesfor this strategy
Forthis strategy, fundamental policies with an international reflectionwill serve to make the group better than it is currently andconsequently get increased profits (IAG, 2011 P. 12). They include
Diversity-since the strategy will involve moving out of the already establishedmarkets, the group’s management must embrace the different contextin which different settings find a home. It will require the trainingof personnel to have cultural tolerance so that it does not get abrand name like a British or Spanish institution. Secondly, diversitywill encompass the differentiation of services offered by thecompanies under the group. They will make them unique from others inthe industry. In embracing diversity, the group will continue withits culture of letting companies operate under their initial brandnames especially after mergers (Zikmund, 2012 P. 23).The move willreduce the marketing intensity since the companies are alreadyestablished in their different areas of operation.
Managementcommitment-the strategy will not be successful without the management committingitself to the implementation through the allocation of enoughresources and overseeing the process to the end. Commitment to any ofthe individual parts of the strategy needs to be devolved to theemployees through proper communication of the expected changes. Eachcompany operates in an individual niche and it understands thevarious travel needs of the customers depending on the culturalbackground. Their commitment to provide the best services in theirareas is a primary factor.
Thegroup’s report (2014) indicates that the invested capital by theairlines will rise to 7% from 6.1%.(Ashely, 2012 P. 24). Therefore,the group will have value for the invested capital. Venturing intonew markets will require capital investment. The company has a bigfinancial base. On the primary ranking of airlines on the basis ofcapital and profits, the airline is the third in Europe and sixth inthe world. As of 2014, the profits amounted to over 1 billion Euros(IAG, 2014 P. 14).The group is in a position to venture into newmergers and improve the services as indicated by the strategy. Thestakeholders look forward to a positive trend of dividend payments,and this will be possible in the management intensifies theoperations of the company both regionally and globally.
Thecurrent management structure of the group will sufficiently managethe anticipated changes. The various directors of the individualcompanies, that is British airlines, Iberia and Vueling will becritical in instituting mechanisms to diversify the services givenoffered by the companies under their authority (George, 2012 P. 32).Due to their diverse nature and diversified settings, the companiesmay require customized services in their different localities. Theirfeedback to the board will serve a great purpose in monitoring thefeasibility and sustainability of the methods. After successfulmergers and retention of brand names, new directors will come onboard to report to the group’s chairman.
Addressingthe expected change
Aspart of the strategy, most of the services being offered by theairlines will change partly or alter completely.The idea will notbe a hard nut since the employees are already acquainted withdiversity which is a primary value of the company. In the group,diversity involves adhering to changes as soon as they occur(Bjelicic, 2012 P. 12)
Organizationalculture is important in helping organizations attain theirobjectives. International airlines group has a visible culture ofdiversity. The employees who work for the group embrace change as itcomes. It was evident with the merging of Vueling and Iberia whereby,the workers productivity was not interrupted by the process. However,the leadership will have to ensure that the expected changes do notambush the employees. They can do this through the dissemination ofinformation in good time and make the necessary preliminarypreparations for the changes.
Thestrategy requires a championed form of leadership whereby each of theindividual companies’ leaders will see to the implementation of thechanges (Aaker & Joachimsthaler 2012 P. 21). Services developmentand diversification will require a task force to ensure that onboardservices reflect expected models and report the same to the boardthrough the director. On the same note, the board of directors willhave to select a task force to conduct research on the potentialareas that the group can venture into in terms of resources,competition, and sustainability.
Thestrategy’s marketing will take the customized methods by individualcomponents of the group in their respective flight areas. Therationale behind this is that these companies understand theircustomers. The penetration of new markets will require intensifiedadvertising and promotional tours to gain significance in theindustry (Kappes & Merkert, 2013 P. 61). As a new airline in aregion, the company will have to employ the services of theirqualified professional so that they draw up the most appropriatemarketing strategies for the different regions. On the same note,potential merging airlines may need the exposure to group’ssuccess as part of the marketing plan to woo them in the group asthey retain their brands.
Theimplementation strategy will have several tasks that will requiredifferent timelines to implement. The Gantt chart can vividly outlinethe approximate timeline for each activity (Mohammad et al., 2013 P.786).
Marketing the group
Completion of prospective mergers
Marketingof the services delivered will involve activities aimed atacquainting customers with the group’s services in the differentregions (Grundy & Moxon, 2013 P. 57). In two years, the group canmarket its services and woo new companies into mergers as well asestablishing itself in new areas. Market development through directinvestments and mergers may require more time than the rest. Thecompany has a vision for 2020 that will make it a leading globalairline. By 2018, the group should have identified and engagedpotential airlines to merge as well as establishing themselves in newareas. The period will allow the groups champion team to comply withthe rules governing the different flight areas as well as carryingout marketing.
TheAnsoff strategy includes four factors of significance. Marketdevelopment may encounter bureaucratic challenges as per theregulations of different countries. The process of acquiring newcompanies inform of mergers may be lengthy and costly, and thecompany may have to part with large amounts of capital. The searchfor favorable niches where competition is not very stiff may alsorequire a lot of research. However, the returns expected from themarket penetration will outdo the costs of venturing. A good exampleis the acquiring of International Midland airline that raised thecompany’s share at Heathrow airport from 45% to 54% (Button, 2014P. 28). The share capital was a major contribution to the group’spositive profit’s positive trend.
IAGmay put in place measures that will ensure a brighter future thanwhat it is experiencing today. First, the group should focus on thestrengths that will enable it to address the threats and takeadvantage of the opportunities. Its strong financial muscle should bean object of venturing into new areas that will lead to increasedprofits.
Secondly,the management should adhere to the implementation plan to achieveservice differentiation and diversification within the first year ofthe plan. Market development and penetration requires a longer spanthan the others. To achieve this, the management should stick to thevalues of diversity and flexibility since they will be encounteringnew markets.
TheInternational Airlines Group has various strengths which if used totake advantages of the available opportunities the group willcushion itself against some threats. The group’s financial muscleremains as an outstanding characteristic among the biggest airlinesin the world. It occupies the sixth position in terms of profits andmarket share. The three companies that constitute the group, that is,British airways, Iberia and Vueling operate under their initial brandnames and this has been a key approach to reducing the cost ofmarketing and dealing with lengthy government bureaucracies. Thebiggest threat facing the group is the continued economic crisisEurope that is reducing the capacity of travelers. However, with theapplication of the right strategies, the group can take advantage ofthe various openings in various destinations and increase theirservices. The result will be increased profit and dividends for theshareholders.
TheAnsoff strategy of market development to be the most suitableapproach to deal with the challenges facing the group (Mintzberg &Lampel, 2012 P.17).The group, through its powerful financial profitsand conviction, can absorb several smaller companies in differentareas of the world and gain their shares. It will also be advisableto fully exploit the already established flight destinations bywooing customers to add to the existing group. To attract newcustomers, the company can differentiate and diversify its services.To implement this strategy, the group must find direction from a listof objectives that will enable the management to set aside enoughresources for the anticipated activities as well as prepare theworkers for to embrace the changes. In a period of one year, thegroup will have implemented the diversification of services, market,and product development. Market development into new areas throughinvestments and mergers requires more time so that the groupsrepresentatives can deal with policy compliance.
Theimpacts of the strategy will be an increased number of customerswilling to travel with the individual airlines and a consequentswelling of the group’s profits (Dobson & Piga, 2013 P.1199).The diversified and differentiated services will attractpeople, and the cost of implementing them will be insignificantcompared to the expected profits. Indicators to evaluate the successof the strategy will incline towards increased travels in the regionand the establishments of new routes. The annual reports will alsoserve a great purpose in this by indicating whether there will be anincrease in profits.
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AppendixAppendix1: The Safe ModelAppendix2: the strategy process