Thursday, July 3, 2008

Airlines to Shutter?

This story is somewhat-buried on the front page of Yahoo! News. You'd think this would be a headline-maker:
In a report released, appropriately, on Friday the 13th, the Business Travel Coalition flatly predicted several unnamed major U.S. carriers will be forced to liquidate late this year or early next.

When an airline liquidates - as ATA, Aloha and SkyBus have done this year - it stops flying and sells its assets to pay creditors. That can leave small, unsecured creditors such as the airline's passengers in the lurch.

Experts are sharply split on whether liquidation is going to happen to major U.S. carriers. But even airline optimists allow it's a good idea to prepare should your carrier be forced to fly into Chapter 7.

Airlines are drastically cutting services on flights. Three major airlines now charge for the first bag. With increased fuel costs, ticket prices are going up. Meanwhile, we've seen that American consumers are steadily cutting back their driving to compensate for the increased costs of gas. I don't doubt that we'll see Americans cut down drastically on their flying as gas continues to edge upward. Ordinary consumers will curtail their recreational flying, and businesses will rely more heavily on teleconferencing.

Point is, I think the airlines are in more trouble than the industry would like to believe.