Explaining Southern California's economy

American Airlines goes bankrupt: Why the airline business is so bad

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TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: An American Airline Plan sits on teh tarmac at Toronto Pearson Airport on November 29, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. American Airlines and its parent company AMR filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy November 29, reportedly in an effort to shed debt and reduce labor costs.

The not-so-big news this morning is that American Airlines has filed for bankruptcy. There had been rumors circulating that this would happen for months, so no one is all that shocked. In fact, American Airlines has simply lived up to the apparent destiny of all airlines. Bankruptcy seems to be baked in the businesses cake.

This is from the Washington Post:

American Airlines on Tuesday joined a long list of airlines that have filed for bankruptcy protection. American was the only U.S. legacy airline that hadn’t yet filed. Several airlines have filed multiple times; Delta and Northwest filed on the same day six years ago. There have been 189 total since 1990.

So why is the airline business so lousy? Slate offered a good explainer back in 2005, on the occasion of the Delta-Northwest bankruptcy-palooza:

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