With the government’s aid dwindling and pandemic-related problems mounting, American Airlines faces growing pains and mounting debt. As a result, the airline has laid off many of its management staff and canceled thousands of flights. At the same time, Americans face pandemic-related challenges. But the company isn’t the only one suffering. Other airlines, including United and Delta, are also facing challenges.
As the airline industry goes, American Airlines is no exception. Its history of being a bad destination for investors isn’t very good. In the early 1980s, the U.S. airline industry was involved in four dozen bankruptcy filings. Nearly every bankruptcy hit the airline’s shareholders hard. But the sector finally completed a restructuring process in the late 2000s, which resulted in four strong companies with clean balance sheets and lower labor costs.
Meanwhile, the airline is in the midst of its own growing pains. It has announced that it plans to cut about 1,000 flights in the first half of July. With fewer flights, American Airlines risks driving up ticket prices and forcing some travelers to delay their travel plans. And as the economy continues to suffer, less money will be flowing to the destinations travelers want to go to.
However, these problems don’t necessarily make the airline industry an unattractive destination for investors. In fact, between 1990 and 2006, U.S. airlines went through more than four dozen bankruptcies. Almost every bankruptcy took a toll on airline shareholders. After the restructuring was completed in the late 2000s, the airlines’ balance sheets became cleaner and labor contracts more reasonable.
But the airline industry is also vulnerable to global trade tensions and Middle Eastern threats. The industry has a long history of “penny-wise, pound-foolish” management. Its executives have lavishly spent money on new aircraft and foreign carriers, but they’ve also been a bit stingy with employee pay and customer experience.
The airline industry has historically been a difficult destination for investors. In the early 1980s, US airlines declared bankruptcy more than a dozen times in a decade. In almost every case, airline shareholders took a hit. After the restructuring, American Airlines was acquired by several other companies. Its growth strategy created four strong companies with lower labor costs and more efficient pricing.