Case | HBS Case Collection | July 1996 (Revised January 1997)

Northwest Airlines: Strategic Alliance and Strategic Position--May 1996

by Leonard A. Schlesinger and Davis Dyer


Describes the strategic position of Northwest Airlines in 1996 and discusses its financial rebound and changes and improvements since the 1993 restructuring agreement. Describes the company's new strategy and its management of principal strategic assets, focusing at length on the strategic alliance between Northwest and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Describes how the alliance was formed, how it obtained antitrust immunity from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and how that ruling facilitated operating cooperation between the two partners. Concludes by considering strains in the alliance and the impact of competitive alliances formed in 1996 by leading U.S. and European airlines.

Keywords: Air Transportation; Restructuring; Alliances; Competitive Strategy; Government Administration; Cooperation; Business Strategy; Air Transportation Industry; United States; Netherlands;


Schlesinger, Leonard A., and Davis Dyer. "Northwest Airlines: Strategic Alliance and Strategic Position--May 1996." Harvard Business School Case 897-034, July 1996. (Revised January 1997.)