If either DL or NW (or ANY other major, for that matter) were to collapse, what's the possibility that their feeder carriers would continue operations, perhaps under their own brands (such as Independence Air after it broke with UA... sorry, bad example)? Would a carrier like SkyWest, which flies for both DL and UA, be able to handle DL going under, despite the loss of all the connections to DL mainline at SLC? I wonder what kind of contingency plans are in place at the regionals right now.
With regionals now operating so many routes that were formerly mainline, it seems that the complete collapse of a major with substantial "outsourced" operations would be different now than it was back in the 80s and early 90s, when Eastern, Braniff, and Pan Am stopped operating. Are the folding of those carriers (and their effects on affiliate carriers) even comparable to what might happen with a DL or NW collapse today? I'm not familiar with what happened to Pan Am Express and similar operators back then.
My apologies in advance for bringing up tough scenarios for people who would be affected by a collapse of DL or NW, but I'm concerned about the future of the affiliate airlines, too, as well as the small communities they serve.