List of airlines that are currently bankrupt?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

Direct Air filed for bankruptcy in March 2012. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November 2011, but continues to operate.

All told there have been 189 airline bankruptcy filings in America since 1990.

For the most part, airlines do not go bankrupt because they have run out of money. It is usually because the airline wants to get rid of something or change some arrangement drastically, and this is the only “legal” way. American Airlines allegedly filed because its pension plans had become too big a burden to fund. So, file for bankruptcy, eliminate the pensions as much a legally possible without killing the airline totally, and keep on flying. Mesa Air in 2010 allegedly filed and reorg’d to rid itself of airplanes and flights and other assets that it simply did not want to deal with anymore. It reorganized with its own cash. It kept what it wanted and left the rest … somewhere. Mesa had accumulated aircraft to service its runs in agreements with Delta and United. Both bigger airlines canceled their respective agreements with Mesa for non-performance. This left Mesa with aircraft it could not use, but had to pay off. How to change this? Bankruptcy! What a country! Mesa has to thank US Airways who provides Mesa with about 70 percent of its business. US Airways is getting cash and stock, a lot of cash and stock, to allow Mesa a foundation for reorganizing. Oh, by the way, Mesa management did not suffer one bit in the reorg. However, 10 percent of Mesa employees lost their jobs while the rest had to make concessions.

The following are lists of US and International airlines that have gone bankrupt over the past 20 years. The first list below is the US list. Wiki and several other sites contributed heavily.

United States List

Name Filing Date Returned / Comment
Continental Airlines 1990-12-03
Pan American World Airways 1991-01-08
Eastern Air Lines 1991-01-18
American West Airlines 1991-06-27
Trans World Airlines 1992-01-31
Hawaiian Airlines 1993-09-21
Trans World Airlines 1995-06-30
Pan American World Airways 1998-02-26
Trans World Airlines 2001-01-10 Filed as part of an acquisition by American Airlines
US Airways 2002-08-11 2003-03-31
United Airlines 2002-12-09 2006-02-01
Air Canada 2003-04-01 2004-09-30
Flash Airlines 2004-03-01
US Airways 2004-09-12 2005-09-27 acquisition by America West
Aloha Airlines 2004-12-30 2006-02-17
Northwest Airlines 2005-09-14 2007-05-31 Acquired by Delta in 2008
Delta Air Lines 2005-09-14 2007-04-30
Conair 2005-09-14
Independence Air 2006-01-05 Filed and liquidated
Maxjet Airways 2007-12-26 Filed and discontinues operations
Silverjet Airways 2007 Filed and discontinues operations
Aloha Airlines 2008-03-31 Filed; discontinues passenger operations
ATA Airlines 2008-04-03 Filed and discontinues operations
Skybus Airlines 2008-04-05 Filed and discontinues operations
Frontier Airlines 2008-04-10 2009-10-01
Eos Airlines 2008-04-26 Filed and discontinues operations
Sun Country Airlines 2008-10-06 Filed
Primaris Airlines 2008-10-15 Filed and discontinues operations
Mesa Air 2010-01-05
Arrow Air 2010-07-01 Filed, discontinued, and undergoing liquidation
Mexicana 2010-08-28 Filed and suspends operations
American Airlines 2011-11-29 Filed and continues operations

Airlines that have gone bankrupt the past two decades:

International List

Name Filing Date Returned / Comment
Ryan International Airlines 2012-03-07
Malev Hungarian 2012
Spanair 2012
Japan Airlines 2010-01-19 2011-03-28
Malaysia Airline (MAS) 2005 2007

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