Flying Into The Sunset

The news this morning of EOS Airlines closing shop sounds like another obituary that both air travelers and airline employees find very disturbing. It shows how delicate the balance between maintaining a costly operation - no thanks to the skyrocketing price of oil - and profitability on which businesses thrive. Prior to EOS, there was ATA, Aloha Airlines, Skybus Airlines, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines and MAXjet Airways that filed for bankruptcy all in a period of 4 months! These airlines represent both no-frills and all-premium carriers mostly based in the U.S. Other struggling companies like Northwest and Delta are now even merging their forces just to survive.

What's the impact to the traveling public? If an airline company is folding-up, a passenger with a paid reservation for a future trip will find the flight already canceled. One can't even get an immediate refund - a ticket paid for with a credit card can only be refunded through the issuing bank while direct payments made to the airline goes through a lengthy process via a bankruptcy court. That certainly makes traveling more stressful especially as one scrambles to find other airlines at the last minute.Perhaps, no one could feel the loss of an airline company more painfully than its employees. I met a woman last week who as recently as last month, was working as an ATA flight attendant for 19 long years. She was passionate about her former job - and now that she's jobless, she's back to school to become a massage therapist. There are others too like her who must be feeling the pinch: the baggage handlers, ticket agents, check-in agents and of course the pilots. These are the people who worked hard to get us from point A to point B. Now they're struggling to find their own direction hoping to find another job.

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