© St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001
The chairman of Continental Airlines warned Friday that the company is in dire financial condition and may be forced into bankruptcy without financial aid.
"If we don't get some help quickly, it's all over for us," said Gordon Bethune, Continental's chairman. He predicted his airline would be bankrupt in eight weeks or less without help.
Airline executives have warned that many carriers are almost out of cash because financial markets are refusing to extend loans to them. Bethune said since the Federal Aviation Administration reopened the nation's airports Thursday, Continental's planes have been 40 percent full. As a result, he said, "Our cash position will force us to take remedies (bankruptcy) by Oct. 15. I don't think anybody can make it through the end of the year."
With the nation's airlines warning of major layoffs and possible bankruptcies because of the terrorist attacks and unprecedented grounding of all airplanes this week, the House was moving on a $15-billion emergency bill to bail out the airline industry.
As of Friday afternoon, 9,822 commercial aircraft were flying or had landed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. United Parcel Services said 100 percent of its flights were operating. Federal Express said it has returned to near normal operations.