Updated from 9:14 a.m. EDTNot that long ago, consolidation was the favorite gabfest topic in the airline industry. But after a series of merger bids fell through, think AirTran ( AAI) for Midwest ( MEH) and US Airways ( LCC) for Delta ( DAL), the buzz died down and the conversation gradually changed to something a bit less glamorous: spinoffs. Though spinoffs don't necessarily generate the excitement of say, two big players joining forces, they could nonetheless play a role in reshaping the future of the industry, even if it's on a smaller scale. Wall Street certainly appears to like the prospects, at least. Combined with falling oil prices, airline shares have gotten a boost amid the latest round of transaction talk. So far this month, the Amex Airline Index is up about 9%, while the S&P 500 has risen around 2%. The spinoff game was kick-started when Iceland's FL Group, the owner of roughly 9% of AMR ( AMR), called for the company to shed its frequent-flier business. AMR is the parent of American Airlines, the world's biggest passenger carrier. Then last Friday, United ( UAUA) CEO Glenn Tilton told employees that the company's five-year plan "includes unlocking the value of business units" such as maintenance and the frequent-flier program. And in a report last week on Northwest ( NWA), Bear Stearns analyst Frank Boroch wrote that the airline "may consider spinning off non-mainline assets to drive shareholder value."