Another phenomenal (if incomplete) infographic from The New York Times. Remember PanAm?
The New York Times has an excellent infographic (see it in all its glory here) showing the consolidation of airlines since 1975.
The deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 led to a wave of mergers that continues to this day. But even as the legacy carriers have been consolidating and growing, they have been losing market share to low-cost carriers. Two of them, SouthWest and AirTran, have just agreed to merge and carried the most passengers in 2009 combined.
It's not only low-cost carriers like JetBlue and SouthWest. Other models have also been introduced, such as all-business-class airlines and super regional airlines. Thanks to these new niches, the total number of airlines worldwide has actually increased by 150 percent over the past 20 years despite the consolidation evident in this visualization.