Now that the sources of PA's woes in the 1980s, and thus, the causes of their ultimate demise, I wonder if we can now refocus this topic back towards the original question--that is, given these problems, could Pan Am have been saved towards the end (1990/91)?
Given that I watched, as a child, the slow decline of Pan Am through the 80s, and the short, vain attempt to bring it back after the Atlantic route sale (actually known as Pan Am II by employees like my mother--not the Pan Am II that operated from 1996-1998, but the Miami-based airline in November-December, 1991), I am fascinated with the question of whether PA could have survived as a Caribbean/Latin America carrier. My opinion is that had PA succeeded in getting a smaller fleet comprised of types that better matched its needs in this area, as well as initiating codeshares with Delta, PA could have continued into the future, prospered, and escaped being bought out or bankrupted, just as CO did.
Take this scenario, for example, as one way this revival could have happened:
(*) PA dumps a lot of the 727s and leases 737-200s. The two-man flight deck means one fewer employee to pay per flight, and the reduced capacity (a decrease of about 40 seats) means that PA could have served more routes in the Carribbean. The smaller capacity would mean they could have served short routes like MIA-NAS, MIA-FPT, and MIA-MCO/TPA with increased frequency, carring more passengers. It also would mean that PA could fly existing thin routes in the Caribbean more efficiently (such as the flights from Miami to Providenciales, Grand Turk, Port au Prince, etc.), as well as new, thin routes such as flights to Antigua, St. Vincent,Martinique, and other Caribbean islands. Finally, the 737s could have allowed them to serve new and existing intra-U.S. routes to cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Washington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, etc., which could have been used to efficiently feed the main operation in Miami.
(*) PA dumps all but 5-6 747s, which they use on the New York-Rio-Sao Paulo, New York-Buenos Aires-Santiago, Miami-Rio, Miami-Buenos Aires, and Miami-Paris routes.
(*) PA starts a codeshare alliance with Delta, making all of PA's flights Delta codeshare flights, and all Delta flights PA codeshares. PA cedes the Miami-Los Angeles-San Francisco route to Delta, which they serve with a 767-200. Delta flights from Atlanta, Dallas, and Cincinnati are re-timed to meet up with the Pan Am international flights. Pan Am acquires rights to fly from Atlanta to Cancun, Mexico City, Jamaica, Nassau, Freeport, and Caracas, which Delta feeds with its domestic operation. These PA ATL flights are timed to meet DL flighs from major destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Chicago.
(*) Delta gives PA the second loan, as per the original agreement, of cash to keep the airline running while the reorganization went on.
In this way, PA would have been able to operate more efficiently, expand into new areas of service, gained a strongbox hold as the #1 American carrier to the Caribbean, and attracted the strong domestic network, through a partnership with Delta, that they needed so badly.
Obviously, this is just one scenario of how a revival could have happened, but in the absence of specific constraints (such as ironclad 747 and 727 leases), it seems like it might have worked. Any other ideas?