Indiana Lawyer Talks About Bankruptcy the American Airlines Way

December 11, 2011 2:51 pm Published by

Post-bankruptcy, “American Airlines continues to operate flights, honor tickets, and take reservations.” explains the Associated Press. The reporter might have been talking about people who’ve filed personal bankruptcy in Indiana, as much as about a giant airline. airlineDespite the many bankruptcy myths that circulate about how life will be interrupted by filing individual bankruptcy in Indiana, the truth is that life mostly goes on as usual, just without all the pressures that led up to the bankruptcy.

By the way, none of us who work in the Zuckerberg bankruptcy law offices was very surprised to learn about American Airlines. Remember that Delta, United, Continental, and U.S. Air have all gone through Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy.

Of course, despite my being a longtime debt consolidation lawyer offering bankruptcy information in Indiana, I’ve never had a mega- corporation such as American Airlines as a client.  As I study the news, however, I’m always struck by the similarities to the stories of small business bankruptcy in Indiana and even the stories of couples, of single moms, of service veterans, and young and old people who take advantage of the safety net offered to them by the new Indiana bankruptcy laws.

At the same time, as my colleague the Columbus bankruptcy lawyer reminds me, all of us who provide bankruptcy services in Indiana are keenly aware that there is bound to be a “ripple effect” whenever a large company files bankruptcy.  According to the Ft. Worth, Texas Star Telegram, “Economists, academics…and industry consultants are relatively unworried about how the airline’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization will affect the broader Fort Worth-Arlington economy and the airport in particular.”

Still, as the newspaper reporter points out, AMR has long been the country’s largest employer, and “the airline’s employees and retirees are likely to be among the first to feel the consequences of bankruptcy.” The government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said last week that it expects to pay about $17 billion of the company’s $18 billion in promised retirement benefits.

On the surface, that sounds pretty good.  But, after 15 years offering Indiana bankruptcy help, I know that missing $1 billion is going to create a hardship for many retirees who are already financial stretched and need help to stop foreclosure on their homes, which have lost a lot of value.  Every day in my Indianapolis bankruptcy law office, I’m seeing folks who are having a hard time surviving financially in retirement, as the value of their homes declines and their healthcare and other expenses continue to rise. Of course, if they need student loan debt help as well, that makes the situation even more difficult.

For many years, as other airlines filed bankruptcy, some more than once, American Airlines resisted going down that path. Fortunately, the company did not wait until its problems got totally out of control; the airline has $4.1 billion to keep running while it restructures its debt.

The lesson for Bankruptcy in Indiana readers from Mark Zuckerberg is this: Seek professional help at the first signs of financial trouble.  Take a tip from American Airlines; by acting when they did, the company kept their options open, doors that would have closed had they continued to put off taking positive action.

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This post was written by Mark Zuckerberg

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