School of Aviation

Darren Ellis

Mr Darren Ellis

Mr Darren Ellis

MAvMgt (GU), MEd (TESOL) (CSU), MMS (Leadership) (UNSW), MIntlSecStuds (Deakin), MA (International Relations) (Deakin), GDEd (UNE), GDIntRel (Deakin), BA (History) (Avondale)

Room Number:  OMB 210
 UNSW Aviation, The University of NSW, Sydney NSW 2052

Research Topic/Area

Darren's PhD is titled: Global geographic reach: A Delphi study into future prospects for the global airline industry

This PhD research employs the Delphi method to forecast the future for the global airline industry, including its big three global alliances – Star Alliance, SkyTeam and oneworld – with a particular focus on liberalisation of international air markets.

Darren's PhD study is located at the nexus between aeropolitics (international relations) and transport geography.

The Delphi method seeks the views of experts in the field, is iterative in nature (often two key stages), and attempts to establish where consensus exists (75% or more of participants aligning in their views on an issue, question or statement). Darren intends to conduct two main online surveys with experts throughout late 2013 and into 2014.

A wiki detailing his research progress, including links to his online surveys is available at:

Darren's research seeks to better understand the extent to which the experiences and lessons of either the US and/or EU markets are transferable to other regions around the world, particularly Asia. The US airline industry deregulated in 1978, while the EU single air market has liberalised considerably since the 1990s; even so, the broader global liberalisation trend has been patchy and uneven for the most part.

The major Gulf carriers are calling for greater international access backed-up by ever growing influence and power, while Asia is home to a considerable airline industry, but one that is fragmented politically. Emerging markets, whether China, India or Brazil (to name a prominent few examples), are rapidly re-shaping the global airline industry landscape and may soon become global powerhouses. What does all this mean for the global industry's future geographic size and scope? What will the industry look like in the foreseeable future?

How one conceives of liberalisation (including the lack thereof), shapes and influences how they view the future of the global airline industry. The US and/or EU may represent what is possible, but do either reflect what is probable or likely elsewhere around the globe? Is it simply a matter of time before other regions around the world adopt a more integrated and united approach leading to larger regional air markets?

Within this overall context, global alliance developments have raised questions in the academic literature, and more generally in the broader media, about whether these alliances, based as they are on antitrust (anti-competition) immunity, simply reflect corporate collusion, rather than the traditional government backed collusion of the past. Others point out that given the realities of the national restrictions on foreign ownership and control throughout much of the world, and the ongoing bilateral structures of the global airline industry as a whole (founded on nationality clauses in air service agreements – ASA's), the global alliances are merely the next best thing to full mergers.

Vocal critics like Emirates have made no secret of the fact that they strongly oppose global alliance membership, seeing such alliances as anti-competitive and too strategically restrictive. In this spirit, Emirates recently announced a 10 year strategic bilateral partnership deal with Qantas, while not long after Qatar Airways announced it would join oneworld (Qantas is also a member). This combined with Etihad's pursuit of a wide range of strategic partnerships of its own, while currently remaining outside the global alliance structures, may yet herald a new and significantly different approach to global alliances as the three major Gulf carriers become more actively embedded in international airline partnerships and equity stakes of all kinds.

Although the future of the dynamic global airline industry is not entirely clear, one thing does seem certain; the extent of global liberalisation will likely correlate with the industry's geographic development and core growth areas into the foreseeable future.

Darren has a strong interest in strategic airline management and marketing. He completed a Master of Aviation Management at Griffith University in October 2011; his main research project was on the major Gulf carriers – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar - looking at whether these carriers are more models or mirages for the global airline industry in terms of strategic management and marketing.