The problem with the idea of selling off the owned Delta Connection carriers is that it doesn't solve the company's problems. It buys time by providing a cash infusion, but it's arguable that that isn't what the company needs, either.
Delta's primary problem at this point (and I know I'll get flamed for this) is labor costs. How can the company be competitive when their pilots are paid up to 73% higher than their peers at the other network majors? Check http://www.apapdp.org/pay.comparison.php
for pilot pay rates at the U.S. majors. A transcon on a jetBlue A320 costs roughly $1000 less to operate than a Delta 737-800 based simply on pilot pay rates. Delta's first quarter labor costs were 49% of revenue; compare this to 40% at Southwest.
At this point, it would be simply burning the furniture to stay warm. And Delta's situation is different than the situation that Continental and Northwest found themselves in. After 9/11, CO
had relatively weak liquidity and few assets to mortgage -- and its pensions were underfunded. Spinning off ExpressJet to help fund the pensions and generate cash helped Continental avoid a liquidity squeeze. Their business was fundamentally sound, and labor costs were reasonable, but we all know how poor the air travel market was for several quarters. Moreover, they had planned a spinoff of ExpressJet for some time. Northwest's situation was similar, with underfunded pensions and a lack of unleveraged assets, but at least NWAC had a bunch of cash on hand. Using Pinnacle stock to fund its pensions made more sense than drawing on the cash pile, especially considering that the company has little additional funding available beyond that.
The problem for Delta is that it seems the pilots are already convinced that the company will file for bankruptcy anyway, and they might as well make as much money as they can until the contract is rewritten in Chaper 11. The thing is, Delta would have shown an operating profit last quarter given 25% lower labor costs. If the company can't get labor costs under control, there's no point in selling off assets to delay a Chapter 11 filing -- they'd just be that much weaker post-bankruptcy.