I couldn't resist this analysis from Instapundit. Great Job!
BANKRUPTCY BOONDOGGLE Delta Airlines is setting up the financing it will need to declare bankruptcy.
Industries such as airlines and telecoms with high fixed costs (i.e., it doesn't cost them very much to carry an extra passenger or data byte; their costs are mostly concentrated in things that cost them money whether they have any customers or not, such as planes or switching equipment) tend to experience serial bankruptcies. The problem is that once one big player has declared bankruptcy, and emerged with its costs lowered, it can charge less than its competitors, who promptly start hemhorraging money until they are forced into bankruptcy. In the case of airlines, the problems are compounded by the legacy of high labour costs, left over from the days when airlines were highly regulated, and as a consequence, highly uncompetitive. They promised benefits and pensions that are not sustainable in a more competitive environment . . . and developed rather poisonous relations with their unions, which (along with cluelessness and greed on the union side) make it hard to profitably restructure unless a bankruptcy judge forces changes down the union's throat.
Add to that what a general pain in the ass flying has become (security delays are making trains and automobiles highly time-competitive in my neck of the woods), and you can expect to see more companies follow Delta.