Who'll Get Pan Am? It's Still Up In The Air

Nobody ever said Pan Am would die quietly. After two weeks of offers and counteroffers from various quarters for the bankrupt airline's assets, Pan Am Chairman Thomas Plaskett chose a $310 million bid from Delta plus a cash infusion to keep the carrier running. He then asked the Transportation Dept. for a speedy transfer of Pan Am's European routes and Northeast shuttle.

But it's almost certain Plaskett's plan won't fly. Rumors are rampant of potential new deals featuring many a strange bedfellow. Sources in Washington say United, archrival American, and TWA will jointly bid to buy and split up all of Pan Am. Another rumor has Delta, Continental, and Northwest readying a competing bid. Never mind that Continental is in Chapter 11 and Northwest is deeply in debt.

It's hard to imagine United and American teaming up, but United's Stephen Wolf, American's Robert Crandall, and TWA's Carl Icahn were seen huddling during an Air Force bash celebrating the airline industry's contribution to Operation Desert Storm. "Anything is possible," says a senior airline executive, who admits the three carriers might be talking. "This will go up to the last minute." Bids are due on Aug. 12.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.