Wednesday, 24 August 2005
Airline bankruptcy fears in the news
As I said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio in June, just before I left for Africa, "I think people have been lulled into an entirely unwarranted complacency about the possibility of [airline] bankruptcy."
That complacency may be fading, with renewed speculation as to which additional airlines in the USA might be forced to seek protection from their creditors through bankrupcy, and/or which of those that are already operating in bankruptcy might be shut down and liquidated by order of the bankruptcy courts.
Airlines have used bankruptcy, or the threat of bankruptcy, to impose cuts in wages, benefits, and pensions. But that may have backifired: Strikes, and the resulting flight delays and cancellations, have only heightened travellers' legitimate fear of paying money to an airline that might not actually be operating when the time comes to travel, whether because of a strike or because of involuntary liquidation .
I've updated my FAQ about Airline Bankruptcies with the latest information I have. My basic advice remains: Don't buy tickets on airlines that are already in bankruptcy if you have a reasonable alternative for a comparable price.
In addition to my own articles, here are some of the other places I've been in the news on this issue:
- A bankrupt Northwest: What could travelers expect? (Jeff Horwich, Minnesota Public Radio, 21 June 2005). Audio archive
- Coping with the unthinkable: An airline's demise (Bill McGee, USA Today, 24 May 2005)
- A few precautions for fliers in financially turbulent times (Jane Engle, Los Angeles Times, 26 September 2004)
- How to Rise Above a Belly-Up Airline (Amy Tsao, Business Week Online, 14 September 2004)