Congress passed the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (P.L. 107-42) in response to a severe liquidity crisis facing the already-troubled airline industry in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Through the ATSB Congress sought to provide cash infusions to carriers for both the cost of the four-day federal shutdown of the airlines and the incremental losses incurred through December 31, 2001, as a result of the terrorist attacks. This resulted in the first government bailout of the 21st century.[44] Between 2000 and 2005 US airlines lost $30 billion with wage cuts of over $15 billion and 100,000 employees laid off.[45]

Often the companies combine IT operations, or purchase fuel and aircraft as a bloc to achieve higher bargaining power. However, the alliances have been most successful at purchasing invisible supplies and services, such as fuel. Airlines usually prefer to purchase items visible to their passengers to differentiate themselves from local competitors. If an airline's main domestic competitor flies Boeing airliners, then the airline may prefer to use Airbus aircraft regardless of what the rest of the alliance chooses.