I retired from AA in 2005, 9 years early. I retired due to the way my pilot/retiree lump sum payout from the "A Fund" and "B Fund" were calculated AND I was afraid of a bankruptcy filing. After declaring bankruptcy, AA pilot retirement plans drastically changed and post-bankruptcy retirees ended up receiving dimes on the dollar.
The airlines mentioned declared bankruptcy in order to void their contracts with not only union labor, but vendors supplying goods and services as well. By voiding the contracts, employees, vendors and creditors were placed in a position of excepting far less than the goods and services that had been provided. Further, they were forced to negotiate new contracts going forward.
I not a lawyer so I'm passing dated information relayed to me in the early 2000's. The bankruptcy law(s) used by the airlines were (are) for one-time use. In order words, the airlines cannot use the same chapter filings this time around.
The airlines (including FedEx and UPS) are considered national economic assets. World wide, airlines make up 3.7% of GDP (3.7 trillion USD).
If one airline was in economic dire straits, I would agree that market forces would balance out. But, when the world has come to an economic standstill, I disagree market forces can balance the industry.
But, if we're actually talking about the industry as a whole participating in the stimulus packages passed by Congress, well perhaps this is how things balance out...
It is a slow day in the small town of Lizard Lick, NC, and streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody is living on credit.
A tourist visiting the area drives through town, stops at the motel, and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night.
As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.
The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer.
The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill to his supplier, the Co-op.
The guy at the Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit.
The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel owner.
The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the traveler will not suspect anything.
At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up the $100 bill and leaves.
No one produced anything. No one earned anything... However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a Stimulus package works.