There are many reasons why airlines have failed so drastically, but I can't help thinking that all of it comes down to one general idea: executive incompetence. Take for example, Delta's announcement today that they are discontinuing service on their Southwest/Jetblue clone Song. Jetblue and Southwest are fantastic airlines that make money because they understand the needs of the customer. Southwest, founded in the 70's by dynamic CEO Herb Kelleher, had one simple philosophy: please the customer. They satisfy their customers every day by being humorous and friendly. Southwest has developed a loyal fanbase who could care less if they get fed on a flight. Indeed the only reason why people eat on a flight is to make themselves comfortable. Southwest does that with their incredible personality. Other airlines make it seem like it is an inconvenience for you to be there. You are getting in the way of them flying their airplanes.
Similarly, Jetblue has brought massive innovations to the airline industry. I've flown Jetblue many times because they are better organized and friendlier than other airlines. Their satellite television is a fantastic way to relax during a long flight. Plus, Jetblue tends to stick to their schedules a lot better than other air carriers.
Both Jetblue and Southwest have succeeded because of excellent leadership. The reason why others have failed is the same, they lack leadership. Other airlines might try to copy the fantastic business models of Southwest and Jetblue, but they can never take the pork out of the barrel. These companies have become fat off of years of government subsidies and ill-gotten profits. It's time to let them die and pay off the poor people that worked for the fat airlines and deserve retirement. For they are the true victims in the disaster that is the airline industry.