Five years ago, Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines signaled the start of a new era for the troubled US airline industry, which was then mired in the aftermath of a string of Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructurings and years of huge financial losses. Delta alone incurred a $10 billion net loss in just one 24-month period (2005-2006). Delta and Northwest—both survivors of the Chapter 11 process—announced a merger agreement in April 2008 to create the world’s biggest airline, ...

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