Alex you are right, there is no economic defense, the bailout was an 

If the air industry expects a long-term secular decline in air 
travel, then of course there should be layoffs and consolidation, and 
nothing should be done to prevent that.

If it is merely a question of a short-term liquidity crisis, the 
airlines should turn to the money markets.  

Either way, there is no justification for government intervention.  

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