So the US airlines are doomed again
The airlines as a whole are doomed again. Specifically, US is gone. UA and AA in the short term (<3-6mo) and CO/DL/NW in the longer term (12-24mo). The potential war with Iraq could expedite this process a bit.
After 9/11/01, I supported government relief to the airliners. I felt that the US hadn't protected the industry from attacks and that the shutdown of US air space had damaged the industry. It seemed reasonable that US should compensate the airliners for the losses and help them get back up on their feet.
However, it is absurd to say that security is keeping people from flying. Mismanaged companies with too many planes, expensive union agreements, and low fares competiting with profitable companies (southwest) are not reasons that the US should be expected to pay airlines to keep them in business.
On 9/11/01, more people on the ground were killed than those in the air. Accordingly, it's clear that safety and security is a shared responsibility. I don't think that the government should pay for it all, since safety and security are part of the air travel business. However, I think that the government should pay for the majority of it. This is even more true when agencies like the TSA and whatnot add all sorts of unnecessary expenses and expect the airlines to pay it.
The US govt paid $5B last year and congress has said that there will be no bail-out. It's the right decision. Let the weak fail and we will be stronger as a result.
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