updated 9/14/2005 7:22:31 PM ET 2005-09-14T23:22:31

American Airlines
The nation’s largest carrier, a unit of Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp., may be the strongest financially of the traditional airlines, thanks to $1.8 billion in annual labor concessions it won in 2003, when it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. AMR earned $58 million in the second quarter, only its second profitable period since 2000, but it has $3.40 billion in cash and short-term investments.

UAL Corp.
The Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based parent of United Airlines, the nation’s No. 2 carrier, has said it intends to emerge from bankruptcy Feb. 1 after 38 months in Chapter 11 — more than twice as long as expected. The company, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2002, used the leverage of bankruptcy law to slice $7 billion from its annual costs and dump its pension obligations. It said it expects to return to profitability next year, but that projection is based on much lower oil prices.

Delta Air Lines Inc.
The Atlanta-based company filed for Chapter 11 on Sept. 14. The nation’s No. 3 carrier will spend the next several months or even longer working on a reorganization plan. It will continue to operate during that time.

Northwest Airlines Corp.
The Eagan, Minn.-based airline, the nation’s No. 4 carrier, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 14, entering Chapter 11 on the same day as its larger rival, Delta Air Lines Inc. The carrier, which is battling a strike by its mechanics' union, said it needs labor cost savings and changes in pension laws, and that it is hurting from high fuel prices. Doug Steenland, the company’s chief executive officer, has acknowledged that bankruptcy law changes scheduled to take effect Oct. 17 were a factor in the timing of the filing.

Continental Airlines Inc.
The Houston-based carrier, No. 5 in the nation, had a big cost advantage over other traditional airlines after it slashed expenses during two bankruptcy reorganizations in the 1990s. Recently the company set a goal of winning $500 million in annual concessions from labor groups. It got $418 million and is still negotiating with flight attendants. The company flipped to a $100 million profit in the second quarter of this year and padded its cash and short-term investments to $2.05 billion.

US Airways Group Inc.
The Arlington, Va.-based parent of US Airways, the nation’s No. 6 carrier in terms of revenue and No. 7 in terms of revenue passenger miles, filed for bankruptcy in September 2004, seeking protection from creditors for the second time in just over two years. It is poised to emerge late this month or early in October and merge with Tempe, Ariz.-based America West Airlines. On Thursday, a bankruptcy judge will hold hearings to confirm US Airways’ plan of reorganization.

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