Apart from natural disasters, the biggest threat to summer holidays are airline strikes. These do so much damage short term in public opinion but long term the financial implications can be extremely damaging. Many airlines are so close to bankruptcy that a strike could actually be make or break. This almost happened to Air Malta whose threatened strike this week was averted at the eleventh hour. It also did a lot of harm to Alitalia two or three years ago, their strike action in the summer months was inevitable and led to too many people refusing to fly with them so they ended up having to relaunch themselves as a smaller but more efficient operation. Iberia, Air France and British Airways also haven’t done themselves any favours over the last few years, but these airlines are so big with a massive network and they have dominance over certain routes eg to the Caribbean and South America. There are no alternatives to fly on so they will survive regardless, no matter how badly they treat their customers and in any case their business travellers subsidise the loss making leisure routes
On the other hand, national airlines with a small network eg Aer Lingus, Air Malta and Olympic are struggling to survive but cannot charge the fares they need to keep them afloat let alone meet the demands of militant staff.
The actual fare element of flights is pitifully low and often most of it is tax which therefore goes to the governments and neither to the airline or the travel agent, for instance I recently paid for my flight Delhi which was £146 plus £280 tax nett so only £146 goes to Qatar Airways for a total distance of total of almost 10,000 miles. This is an early booking special so not all the seats will sold at this low cost and of course this is subsidised to a great extent by travellers travelling in Business and First Class and by people who book later on and pay higher fares. If they were to go on strike and not operate this flight they would not only lose that revenue but they would also have to pay another airline to carry their passengers as well.
Many of these airlines have joined Star Alliance, One World or other alliance partners and this does help them to reduce costs and increase revenue in various different ways but long term this may not be enough to ensure their survival in 10 years time.