My wife works for Delta, so I am definitely coming at this issue with bias; however, one must realistically look at the labor situation in the airline industry. USAirways and UAL being allowed to continue to operate in Chapter 11 hurts the bottom line of every other carrier.
If US Airways is allowed to abrogate their current labor contracts after two bankruptcy induced rounds of concessions, or was it three, and a Court forces the workers to work for even lower wages, it will not be long before American, Delta, Northwest and Continental all claim that they need even larger concessions to survive. Perhaps a 777 captain should work for $80,000.00 a year. There are people willing to fly that can pass the government tests that will fly for a living and do not care about making money. They do it because they love to fly, AND IT
But the problem with this, is that the Courts are interfering with the free market. If US Airways and United are allowed to fail, then perhaps, Delta, American, Northwest, Continental, Southwest, AirTran and others, can raise their fares to levels that actually cover their operational costs.
Once the public gets used to paying higher fares, the perception that coast to coast airfares should be less than $200.00 roundtrip may go the way of the Ten Cent Cup of Coffee. Then the industry as a whole will enter a more healthy period, and many of the former UA
and US employees will be hired at the surviving carriers, and be able to earn a living wage.
Labor is more than a commodity. Eventually, the American public will come to realize that low wages hurt all of us. If the downward pressure on wages continues, who will buy consumer goods that we still produce? Who will be able to afford a new home? Only the very wealthy, and believe me, you can't fill airplanes every day depending on those with incomes of $100,000.00 per year or more.
This "Race to the Bottom" must be stopped. And unfortunately, it will take the US Airways Bankruptcy Judge to do it.