What are the real advantages of joining an alliance, other then the "cool" factor and the service fee. I see must of the top airlines are in an alliance...why?
1. You pay alliance fees, which goes to marketing, which increases your company image.
2. Route protection--alliance members don't compete with each other, so if you fly a route to an alliance mate's base airport then they typically won't compete with you, and if they do it will be to split demand versus oversupply and only getting 50% load factors.
3. Base protection--alliance members won't open bases at your bases (if possible). This is more of a benefit in smaller countries with less base options.
4. Help--if you need advice on how to run your airline better or a temporary bailout (buy/sell planes) then they can help you out in a pinch.
5. Protection from other alliances--if you are one of the largest airlines that aren't a member of an alliance, expect to be constantly recruited and hassled by alliances to join.