Struggling low-cost carrier ATA is the latest airline to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It’s expected to emerge today after shedding nearly half its planes, more than half its workforce, and more than a dozen cities from its route map.
The leaner carrier plans to focus its energies—and its hopes of continued operation—on leisure travelers. This is in stark contrast to the strategy of United, another airline to fly out of bankruptcy this year. United is staking its future on business travelers.
The contrast between the two highlights the intersection we’ve reached in the travel industry. Some speculate that the legacy carriers may ultimately cede much of the domestic map to low-cost lines, concentrating instead on international travel.
It’s a trend we’re already seeing, at least in its infancy, with United, Delta, and American. Certainly it bears watching. It also begs the question, if low-cost carriers replace the legacy carriers on most routes, will they need to be low-cost anymore?
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