proposed merger

Flying out of bankruptcy

$8 billion to spend?

What's wrong with this picture? US Airways, freshly out of bankruptcy itself not long ago and now merged with failing America West, suddenly has $8 billion to offer for Delta, another airline in bankruptcy. And $4 billion of that is in cash!

Just over a year ago, Congress worked itself into a lather about people abusing the bankruptcy laws to get out of paying their debts, never mind that for many ordinary people what drives them deeply into debt is the sudden loss of a job or a serious illness not covered by health insurance. The Righteous Right that controlled Congress lined up to protect credit card companies and other financial institutions from having to forego the repayment of the debts, often at usurious interest rates. Never mind that they were the ones who enticed people to get in over their heads with a deluge of credit card and home equity loan offers. The bankers and credit card barons contribute generously to politicians, and the politicians reciprocated with a sweetheart bill.

While the thumbscrews are being put to Joe Blow, however, airlines and other huge American corporations have filed for bankruptcy protection and used that as a mechanism to get out of labor contracts, pensions, and other benefits that they agreed to when times were better. So while pilots and flight attendants and mechanics were forced to give back their raises, pay more of their healthcare costs, and watch their retirement benefits evaporate, the companies reorganized, stiffed their creditors, and piled up cash to go shopping. Where's the social justice in that?

fly with us

Delta Airlines is none too happy about being invited to fly with US Air, having gone through painful business adjustments to make themselves a viable airline. They'd like to experience the potential gain of that, and not just the pain. For US Airways, however, it's an opportunity to become a behemoth on the cheap, rather than grow naturally into a bigger airline by attracting more customers through superior service and value for travel dollars spent.

Yes, I think that people should be expected to pay their rightful debts. But I also think credit card companies should not be able to offer 0% introductory rates to people who will never be able to pay off the cards if they run them up to the limit. They should bear part of the responsibility. And airlines should not be able to say, "Oops, sorry, we ran our business in an unsustainable way, clear their debts for pennies on the dollar, and then turn around and buy some other company.

It's just wrong.