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U.S. Airline Bankruptcies

Many lay observers broadly equate bankruptcy with going out of business. However, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure are complex, affording companies different means of addressing their financial plights. The most common path, Chapter 11 (reorganization), “ordinarily is used by commercial enterprises that desire to continue operating…and repay creditors concurrently through a court-approved plan of reorganization.” Under more extreme circumstances, companies engage in Chapter 7 (liquidation) proceedings, which entail “an orderly, court-supervised procedure by which a trustee collects the assets of the debtor’s estate, reduces them to cash, and makes distributions to creditors, subject to the debtor’s right to retain certain exempt property and the rights of secured creditors.” For more information on federal bankruptcy law, proceedings and terminology, please consult Bankruptcy Basics, published by the Bankruptcy Judges Division of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Other sources of bankruptcy research include BankruptcyData.com, the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the Cornell University Legal Information Institute. Pre-1978, bankruptcies were extremely rare in the unduly regulated environment. [Some exceptions existed for intra-state carriers, which were not regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board.] The CAB typically arranged marriages between failing carriers (i.e., Northeast) and survivors (i.e., Delta), transferring routes and assets to the surviving carrier. Since 1978, there have been well over 100 bankruptcy filings, although not all of these have resulted in liquidation. The early years of deregulation saw numerous filings amongst startup carriers that lacked viable business plans or sufficient capitalization. However, recession, fierce competition, rising costs, the Gulf War, and the September 11, 2001 tragedy prompted bankruptcy filings amongst several larger carriers. The table below is a loose, unofficial compilation of research conducted by various individuals. Neither DOT nor A4A maintains official records of airline bankruptcy filings and/or service cessations. As such, we cannot verify the accuracy of each individual entry. The table is provided as a service rather than an authoritative source. It is the only known source that is publicly available, free, and centralized.

Date Carrier Chapter
2/25/2016 Republic Airways Holdings 11
2/5/2016 SeaPort Airlines 11
12/31/2003 Evergreen International Airlines 7
9/28/2012 Southern Air 11
9/12/2012 Comair (began ops in April 1977; ceased ops 9/29/2012) 7
4/12/2012 Direct Air (began ops March 7, 2007; ceased ops March 12, 2012) 7
4/1/2012 Pinnacle Airlines 11
3/6/2012 Ryan International Airlines 11
2/6/2012 Global Aviation Holdings (World Airways/North American Airlines) 11
11/29/2011 American Airlines (AMR Corp.) 11
11/4/2010 Gulfstream International Airlines 11
6/30/2010 Arrow Air 11
1/5/2010 Mesa Air (founded in 1982) 11
10/15/2008 Primaris Airlines (established in 2002, ops. in 2004; charter) 11
10/6/2008 Sun Country (began 1982 [scheduled service eff. 6/1/99]) 11
8/12/2008 Gemini Air Cargo (10/24/96 through 8/12/08) 7
7/18/2008 Vintage Props & Jets (began 1991) 11
6/18/2008 Gemini Air Cargo 11
5/14/2008 Air Midwest (5/15/65 through 6/30/08) 7
4/26/2008 Eos Airlines (10/18/05 through 4/27/08) 11
4/11/2008 Frontier Airlines (began 7/5/94) 11
4/7/2008 Skybus Airlines (5/22/07 through 4/5/08) 11
4/2/2008 ATA Airlines (8/73 [scheduled service eff. 1986] through 4/2/08) 11
3/31/2008 Champion Air (originally MGM Grand Air; 9/87 through 5/31/08) 11
3/31/2008 Aloha Airlines (7/26/46 through 3/31/08) 7
1/7/2008 Big Sky (9/15/78 through 1/7/08) 7
12/24/2007 MAXjet Airways (11/1/05 through 12/24/07) 11
10/15/2007 Kitty Hawk Aircargo 11
2/21/2006 Florida Coastal Airlines 11
1/6/2006 Independence Air (6/16/04 through 1/5/06) 7
12/28/2005 Era Aviation (scheduled service eff. 5/83) 11
11/7/2005 Independence Air (originally Atlantic Coast Airlines eff. 12/15/89) 11
10/13/2005 Mesaba Airlines (founded 1944; scheduled service eff. 2/4/73) 11
9/29/2005 TransMeridian Airlines (founded 1995) 7
9/14/2005 Delta Air Lines 11
9/14/2005 Comair 11
9/14/2005 Northwest Airlines 11
12/30/2004 Aloha Airlines 11
12/1/2004 Southeast Airlines 7
10/26/2004 ATA Airlines 11
9/12/2004 US Airways 11
1/30/2004 Atlas Air/Polar Air Cargo 11
1/23/2004 Great Plains Airlines 11
10/30/2003 Midway Airlines 7
3/21/2003 Hawaiian Airlines 11
12/9/2002 United Airlines 11
8/11/2002 US Airways 11
7/30/2002 Vanguard Airlines 11
1/2/2002 Sun Country Airlines 7
8/13/2001 Midway Airlines 11
1/10/2001 Trans World Airlines 11
12/13/2000 Allegiant Air 11
12/6/2000 National Airlines 11
12/3/2000 Legend Airlines 11
9/27/2000 Fine Air Services 11
9/19/2000 Pro Air 11
5/1/2000 Kitty Hawk 11
2/29/2000 Tower Air 11
11/29/1999 Access Air 11
9/30/1999 Eastwind Airlines 7
6/25/1999 Sunjet International/Myrtle Beach Jet Express 11
3/23/1999 Kiwi International Airlines 11
7/29/1998 Euram Flight Centre 11
2/26/1998 Pan American World Airways 11
11/6/1997 Mountain Air Express 11
10/5/1997 Western Pacific Airlines 11
8/28/1997 Air South 11
7/25/1997 Mahalo 11
9/30/1996 Kiwi International Airlines 11
1/23/1996 Conquest Airlines 11
1/22/1996 Business Express 11
1/10/1996 GP Express 11
12/15/1995 The Krystal Company 11
11/28/1995 Grand Airways 11
6/30/1995 Trans World Airlines 11
4/14/1995 Markair 11
2/3/1995 Crescent Airways 11
10/11/1994 Florida West Airlines 11
3/21/1994 Resorts International 11
9/21/1993 Hawaiian Airlines 11
9/20/1993 Evergreen International Aviation 11
5/1/1993 Key Airlines 11
12/15/1992 States West Airlines 11
6/8/1992 Markair 11
6/8/1992 Hermans/Markair Express 11
2/28/1992 L’Express 7
1/31/1992 Trans World Airlines 11
12/31/1991 Flagship Express 11
11/27/1991 Midway Airlines 7
8/12/1991 Mohawk Airlines 11
6/27/1991 America West Airlines 11
5/30/1991 Metro Airlines Northeast 11
5/20/1991 Jet Express 11
4/1/1991 Metro Airlines 11
3/26/1991 Grand Airways 11
3/25/1991 Midway Airlines 11
1/29/1991 Northcoast Executive 7
1/22/1991 Virgin Island Seaplane 11
1/20/1991 Bar Harbor Airlines 11
1/18/1991 Eastern Air Lines 7
1/9/1991 L’Express 11
1/8/1991 Pan Am World Airways 11
1/8/1991 Pan Am Express 11
12/3/1990 Continental Airlines 11
12/3/1990 Britt Airways 11
12/3/1990 Rocky Mountain Airways 11
7/5/1990 CCAir 11
5/10/1990 SMB Stage Lines 11
1/23/1990 Pocono Airlines 11
11/17/1989 Resort Commuter 11
11/12/1989 Resorts International 11
10/26/1989 Presidential Airways 11
9/28/1989 Braniff International 11
7/19/1989 Air Kentucky 7
3/14/1989 Big Sky Airlines 11
3/9/1989 Eastern Air Lines 11
9/27/1988 Southern Jersey Airways 11
9/14/1988 Qwest Air 11
8/11/1988 Princeton Air Link 7
6/20/1988 Virgin Island Seaplane 11
5/25/1988 Pocono Airlines 11
5/6/1988 Caribbean Express 11
3/4/1988 Exec Express 11
1/20/1988 Mid Pacific Airlines 11
1/15/1988 Air Virginia 11
1/14/1988 Air New Orleans 11
1/5/1988 Sun Coast Airlines 11
9/9/1987 Royale Airlines 11
6/17/1987 Air South 11
4/3/1987 Air Atlanta 11
3/12/1987 Royal West Airlines 11
3/10/1987 Gull Air 11
3/6/1987 Air Puerto Rico 11
2/27/1987 Rio Airways 11
2/23/1987 McClain Airlines 11
2/19/1987 Chicago Airlines 11
8/28/1986 Frontier Airlines 11
8/19/1986 Trans Air 11
4/9/1986 Sea Airmotive 11
2/11/1986 Arrow Airways 11
1/30/1986 Imperial Airlines 11
1/21/1986 Southern Express 11
12/2/1985 Pride Air 11
10/7/1985 Wheeler Airlines 11
8/19/1985 Cascade Airways 11
5/1/1985 Wise Airlines 11
3/19/1985 Sun West Airlines 11
3/13/1985 Provincetown Boston 11
3/8/1985 American Central 11
2/22/1985 Far West Airlines 11
1/22/1985 Pompano Airways 11
1/8/1985 Northeastern International 11
11/28/1984 Wien Air Alaska 11
11/23/1984 Capitol Air 11
10/26/1984 Air One 11
10/10/1984 Atlantic Gulf 11
10/10/1984 Connectaire 7
10/2/1984 Oceanaire Lines 7
9/27/1984 Wright Air Lines 11
9/4/1984 Air North 11
8/29/1984 Hammonds Commuter 11
8/21/1984 Emerald 11
7/19/1984 American International 11
7/17/1984 Excellair 7
7/3/1984 Air Florida 11
4/9/1984 Combs Airways 11
2/8/1984 Dolphin 11
2/2/1984 Pacific Express 11
1/30/1984 Air Vermont 11
12/2/1983 National Florida 7
9/24/1983 Continental Airlines 11
4/22/1983 Golden West 11
2/14/1983 State Airlines 11
2/1/1983 Inland Empire 11
12/9/1982 North American 11
11/9/1982 Altair 11
10/19/1982 Aero Virgin Islands 11
10/5/1982 Aero Sun International 11
8/19/1982 Will’s Air 11
7/8/1982 Astec Air East 11
5/13/1982 Braniff International 11
4/16/1982 Cochise Airlines 11
4/2/1982 Air South 11
3/26/1982 Air Pennsylvania 11
3/3/1982 Silver State Airlines 11
1/26/1982 Pinehurst Airlines 11
10/9/1981 Golden Gate 11
9/18/1981 Swift Air Line 11
9/11/1981 Pacific Coast 11
7/13/1981 Coral Air 11
3/16/1981 LANICA 11
3/6/1981 Mountain West 11
12/31/1980 Tejas Airlines 11
12/15/1980 Air Bahia 11
3/3/1980 Indiana Airlines 11
1/24/1980 Florida Airlines 11
11/19/1979 Aeroamerica 11
5/18/1979 New York Airways 11

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