Industry experts say Delta Air Lines' warning of the possibility of bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean the end is near, but it suggests the company's survival rests on reducing pilot costs within the next few months.
Airline analyst Joel Denney said he still believes the Atlanta-based carrier will ultimately reach an agreement with its pilots, who are among the highest paid in the industry.
Clinton Oster, an Indiana University professor who specializes in airline economics, said that while Delta has enough cash to last until next summer, it wouldn't be wise for the airline to wait that long to file for bankruptcy if it can't get an agreement.
Delta has said repeatedly that it would fight to avoid bankruptcy. But Monday, it signaled in a regulatory filing that it may have to file for bankruptcy protection if it doesn't get wage concessions from pilots.
The nation's third-largest airline has lost more than $3 billion and laid off 16,000 employees in the last three years.