United Airlines CEO Paints Grim Picture Of Future

Filed Under: United

United Airlines yesterday published a letter that they’re sending to employees. There’s nothing terribly surprising in there, it’s just a reminder of how bad things are going to get, and that job cuts should be expected as of October 1.

I can’t help but be a bit confused by the different messaging we’re seeing from American and United during these tough times…

American Airlines: we’ll be fine

Before we talk about United Airlines’ note to employees, it’s interesting to look at American’s messaging. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker was interviewed on CNBC yesterday, and painted a rather rosy picture of the current situation, at least in contrast to some other industry executives.

According to Parker:

  • They expect demand to stay where it is now through the second quarter, and then expect a very gradual recovery through the third and fourth quarter
  • The government aid that the airline has received “will be more than sufficient” to get through this situation
  • Parker notes that we definitely are at “the bottom” (because planes can’t get emptier than they are now), the question is just how long the industry will stay there
  • He notes that “our team will be here when the flying public is ready to return”

Here’s the interview, if you’d like to watch it:

It’s not surprising, but Parker’s answer to 90% of the questions is basically “we don’t know.” This clearly reflects how unprecedented the current situation is, and that really no one knows what’s going on anymore.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Parker is saying everything is fine. But his commentary has definitely been less alarming than what we’ve seen at other airlines.

Parker seems confident the airline will make it through this situation

United Airlines: the sky is falling

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and United Airlines President Scott Kirby published a letter to employees yesterday.

I wanted to cover some of the highlights here:

  • The challenge that lies ahead for United is bigger than any challenge they’ve faced in 94 years
  • This weekend United will load a schedule change that will see a total of a 90% reduction in capacity for May and June; they’ve redesigned their network to reduce capacity this much while still maintaining service to all markets, in accordance with the CARES Act
  • United saw a 97% drop in passengers in the first two weeks of April — last year they had over six million travelers during that period, while this year they had under 200,000 travelers
  • United expects to fly fewer people in all of May 2020 than they fly in one day in May 2019

Then there’s this part of the letter, which I think is worth sharing in full:

The historically severe economic impact of this crisis means even when travel demand starts to inch back, it likely will not bounce back quickly. We believe that the health concerns about COVID-19 are likely to linger which means even when social distancing measures are relaxed, and businesses and schools start to reopen, life won’t necessarily return to normal. For example, not all states and cities are expected to re-open at the same time. Some international travel restrictions will remain in place. Meeting planners and tour operators will do their best to accommodate people looking to avoid large crowds. So, while we have not yet finalized changes to our schedule for July and August, we expect demand to remain suppressed for the remainder of 2020 and likely into next year.

So, let us end where we began, the government funding we expect to receive soon is helpful in the near-term because we can protect our employees in the U.S. from involuntary furloughs and pay rate cuts through the end of September. But the challenging economic outlook means we have some tough decisions ahead as we plan for our airline, and our overall workforce, to be smaller than it is today, starting as early as October 1.

Again, there’s nothing surprising here, as we are hearing the same thing as in the past:

United Airlines warned of layoffs the same day that CARES Act funding was approved, which leaves me with a lot of questions about the direct payroll funding.

Most suggest that the point of government aid is so that airlines will be ready to bounce back once demand recovers. After all, if demand recovers but many airline workers have been laid off, it will take a while until capacity can be added back.

However, the way United seems to view it, the company is just putting off layoffs by several months, so it doesn’t accomplish much with helping the industry recover.

United is skeptical about what a recovery looks like

Bottom line

The contrast in messaging between American and United is puzzling. Even though American is arguably in the most vulnerable state of the “big three” US carriers, they’re suggesting that current government aid is “more than sufficient” to get through this situation.

Meanwhile United is saying that layoffs will definitely be coming in October, and that demand won’t be recovering this year. I think United is probably right to be skeptical, though I continue to scratch my head about how anyone wins by simply putting off inevitable layoffs by a few months…

Comments
  1. Munoz and Kirby (yup Kirby too$ ate not all that bright. Take all these forecast with a big grain of salt.

  2. One thought on who wins by simply delaying layoffs. I think it’s safe to say that not a single United worker wants to lose their job. However, if that outcome is inevitable, then they would probably rather not lose it during the height of a pandemic with very little notice. At least the government support allows them to ride out the worst of the pandemic without having to worry about affording food or rent. It also gives them a few months to implement a game plan. Bottom line, if I am going to lose my job, I rather have 6 months advance notice. I hope the situation turns out better than expected. Incredible time in history we’re all living through.

  3. @ Ben — Parker is an expert on bankruptcy, so he knows AA will likely come out better off than before the crisis. United’s executives are massively overpaid and know they will be chopped. I really don’t understand why they effectively have two CEOs (Munoz and Kirby). It is an outrageous waste of money. Stockholders should be livid.

  4. Ben,

    United employee here !

    So I agree with you … Over the weekend dozens of flights were added from EWR and IAH to the Caribbean and to Central America …ORD got a LHR back too .. We as employees were actually thinking … the light has finally shinned in the dark tunnel.

    And then this email from Munoz and Scott dropped like a lightning bolt.

    It has sunk the morale and confused everyone at same time; to an all time low. It’s a slow and painful death we are being put into. Some of us would prefer to get the axe now so we can move on with our lives, as a 30 year employee I don’t say that lightly.

    A lot of us at United, for the first time in a long time see no out of this now … wow .. just wow – and not in a good way !

  5. Their comments are different because they are talking about two different things. United is talking about what is happening today and short term. American is referring to a longer term time horizon.

    If the CEO’s were asked the exact same questions and gave two different responses, then you would have a point. But absent that scenario, I don’t see how you can claim confusion at their comments.

  6. I do have some concern about how United and American run their payroll for employees. I have heard the middle-east carriers have dropped all pilots pay by 50%, which I think is almost required in this day. But, I personally know a United pilot, 29 years on the job, he makes around 350k a year and flies 8-9 days a month. Great guy, but he even told me personally he makes way to much money for the time he puts in. Now, is he worth 350k, not sure, but that’s not the point. The point is, these American carriers are going to lay off people makes 40k-50k a year, who most likely will struggle for awhile to get a new job, pay rent, and put food on the table. I am asking/questioning, why the American carriers don’t do the same as the middle-eastern carriers and drop the pilots pay in order to help the less fortunate employees keep their jobs? Is it because they don’t want to take pay cuts? Is it the guy that lives in the million-dollar house can’t afford his mortgage if they do that? These are times that people need to stand up to the rich and powerful and ask questions, put the rich is awkward situations, yet, it will not happen. Sad for the country and world.

  7. @Lucky — The bailout certainly will be extended a few months to push layoffs until after the November elections. Then post-election folks who would be fired will be fired. That’s all that will be accomplished. There’s not a good “policy” reason for the bail out, just election year politics.

  8. I may look at this somewhat cynically… but it would not surprise me if some of the airlines use the opportunity of hugely decreased demand to take out the costs of the significantly higher/over-paid staff and pilots (such as the United pilot FirstClassTraveler74 mentions), so they emerge significantly more profitable per plane once a level of normalcy returns

  9. @FirstClassTraveler74, the reason is simple…Unions. The CBAs simply do not give US carriers like United the ability to enact paycuts unilaterally. So all United can do here is reduce hours to the contractual minimums for Pilots, Flight Attendants, Mechanics, and evening Customer Service and Ramp workers. This is why they’re pushing so hard to get employees to take voluntary early retirement packages. Because even once they are allowed to furlough folks, it’s going to be the lowest seniority (or lowest paid) employees. The ME3 doesn’t have labor agreements like this so they can pay their folks whatever they want or cut pay/furlough as needed.

  10. Doug is likely just being politically optimistic. Even if layoffs occur (which will happen at UA as well as AA IMO), the intent of Congress was to dull the individual impact, which occurs even if some employees are laid off in Oct.

  11. While this is a crisis, the upside for Parker is that no one is clamoring for him to step down during all of this. So his job is secure, he didn’t have to cut his salary (as it was $1) and any now that the federal government has effectively provided a backstop against bankruptcy, his current and future equity is somewhat protected.

  12. @Nick, “United’s major hubs happen to be in cities ravaged by Corona.”

    Nonsense. San Francisco has not been “ravaged”, it’s doing relatively well (17 deaths as of today).

    If you’ve got data on UA’s other hubs vs. AA and DL hubs, please show your work instead of spouting nonsense.

  13. @lucky

    “United saw a 97% drop in passengers in the first two weeks of April”

    thanks for writing it this way rather than 3% of passengers were flying compared to last year.

    🙂

  14. Doug is following the lead of the short fingered vulgarian and giving the most optimistic comments because he figures it will be more rewarding than being honestly negative. Oscar thinks they will get more help if they share the most bleak assessment possible. Both positions represent bargaining positions.

  15. I’ve worked at UA since 1999. Got laid off after 9/11 and again during bankruptcy. Each time was with hardly any notice. Losing your job suddenly in a bad economic climate sucks. Like others have said, the benefit of the government assistance is that it allows layoffs to happen in a more orderly, planned, expected, and humane manner. Still an awful outcome, but not as awful as it could be.

    To the other point above about wanting the get the axe now – UA is offering exactly that. If you want to part ways now, they are offering incentives to do so. But, the incentive isn’t cash, which maybe the commenter above wants.

    I, for one, appreciate the transparency and candor from Oscar and Scott. It’s better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

  16. “This weekend United will load a schedule change that will see a total of a 90% reduction in capacity for May and June”

    As compared to May and June of last year?

    Or as compared to this month?

  17. Just putting it out there that while these airline employees aren’t getting furloughed or pay reduced until september (if not longer if there’s more bail out money), almost every other aerospace company and supplier/vendor that doesn’t get bail out money is furloughing and cutting pay for their employees.

  18. United could start cutting costs by laying off its entire leadership team which is overpaid and useless. All United needs is a cheap intern to just copy and paste whatever Delta does and they should be fine.

  19. United is talking directly to congress and asking for another bailout. American is talking to shareholders.

  20. Doug came from US Airways. It wasn’t Spirit, but it wasn’t AA standards. However, coming out of 9/11, US Airways took a different path than AA, UA, and DL. While those three competed for for high end spenders, US Airways offered a generic, more budget friendly low cost “first class”. Basically, they’d fly you where you needed to go and all you were paying for is to get from point A to point B with a no frills bigger seat up front for a lot less than the big 3. After the LUS/LAA merger, LUS was trying to join “the big 3” with upgraded service standards and amenities (though it’s been a rocky path). With that being said, Doug will revert back to US Airways standards if need be to keep the company afloat. He will have no problems offering Juice & water service in main for however long it needs to be to keep the company going. He will consolidate positions in corporate to erase all the overlap. Minus LAX and NYC, the hubs are cheaper to operate than other cities (and even speculation that LAX and NYC will be downgraded in the future. AA has never been able to capitalize on the LAX-ASIA markets b/c the competition is just too great in LA and much of NYC flying has already gone to PHL. With Alaska joining OneWorld and their extensive west coast foothold, AA still has massive access to the west coast without the cost ). There is no doubt we are in for an economic quagmire after this and companies will utilize teleconference and the cheapest airline options to keep costs down. The good days of flying are over and for the foreseeable future, flying will be treated as just necessary infrastructure that gets people from point A to B.

    As for UA furloughs, the key now is to keep staff as long as possible. If UA does furlough a lot, it will allow DA and AA to quickly enter markets UA is going to have to leave allowing others to delay and maybe not have to furlough. If they have mostly useless widebodies, then they are left out of a lot of markets.

    One thing to keep in mind as well as I heard from someone in United that concerns them – AA wholly owns some regional airlines which allows them to strategically get through this and keep passengers coming into hubs. UA contracts out all regional airlines and arguably some may go belly-up (Compass already has. Mesa may be next). If UA isn’t able to bring people in to their hubs to connect them, it severely inhibits their recovery. Add in the fact that AA has a huge cargo operations makes me think AA may not be in as bad shape as UA. DL will be fine long term as well but watch out for labor issues – I can almost guarantee F/As are finally going to demand a union. I do think Delta’s ownership in other airlines instead of just alliances creates a lot of problems. You can help one airline recover financially if need be, but every airline is hurting and when you have ownership in so many, you have to pick winners and losers (which then leaves you without specific markets).

    At the end of the day, I think AA is going to be the world’s largest discount carrier. It will still offer somewhat of a first class product but until airlines completely recover and have money to spare on upgrades and amenities, don’t expect them to wow you. They will nickle and dime to the point the FAA allows them to. But I think the next few years will be brutal for airlines and low cost carriers will be the winners. If AA can offer a low cost carrier product while still retaining “first class” and extensive network, it may be able to sway those with a little more $ to go their way. If UA continues to go after mostly corporate money, they will be in worse shape because we’ve entered the teleconference future.

    This is all speculation and I’m no AA cheerleader but just my two cents 🙂

  21. @Santastico

    LOL. Exactly right. They can’t get rid of those obscenely paid executives fast enough.

  22. @ FirstClassTraveler74: The Mid-East countries are not democratic, despite their high living standards and flaunting glitzy western decadence. They have impunity for breaching contracts. All expatriate employees have no rights and can be terminated abruptly without cause. Their work visa will cease within days that forces them to depart before their exit visa expires. Labor unions fail to prepare their members to face the new reality of labor market, where technology plays a major role to displace jobs in all industries at all levels at faster speed. Unions and executives/ management impede the efficiency and imperil the financial strength/ stability of companies that leave the consumers and taxpayers on the hook for the rescue and resuscitate mission. The Post Office will collapse by September without government bailout but the union refuses to cut Saturday delivery and close branches. Americans need to change their culture at work and home, impose term limits on all lawmakers , including committee chair males, and vote out politicians at state and federal levels, legalize and enforce laws that show empathy to the vulnerable, the less fortunate and the working class as well as curbing the power and influences of big corporations. Unfortunately, we won’t see it happen in our lifetime or next generation. Empires collapsed and the US will decline at home and abroad in our lifetime.

  23. No matter what happens I will keep flying as much as reasonably possible to support American jobs and do my part to protect the airline industry. I know it is hard right now because inflight service has been cut to a minimum and almost all lounges are closed but every little helps… If Delta loaded a few decent fares in domestic First I would be the first one to go mileage running and laugh at all the cry babies at home scared of this Chinese virus

  24. This is the c-suite being a big ninny baby. I don’t hear other airlines complaining like this. As you said Ben, Parker gave a much better outlook yesterday. Does UA think that people will not return to them after this is settle? Likely. Can you blame the flying public for not wanting to deal with UA? I certainly have zero intention of flying them based on the actions the company has taken to punish customers and hoard their cash.

    I feel bad for the employees. Management at UA have punished customers, even their most loyal customers by destroying their mileage program, punishing their best flyers, and hoarding cash from all customers recently. It is no surprise that no one wants to fly them. This is all squarely management’s fault. Heck, I’m often critical of AA, but they generally do the reasonable thing. Not UA.

    Let the company go into bankruptcy, clear the entire management suite and board. Bring back Continental and start over with a single person above middle management involved.

  25. They deserve it…good riddance. Let them all fail! That’s the way business is supposed to work…I can think of no other industry in the world that needs a reset….especially the US carriers. They will fail and new one will arise…ones that actually respect and care about their passangers and employees.

  26. As a UA MM Platinum, I have limited sympathy for the plight they’re in.
    They treated loyal lifetime flyers like myself and millions of others like trash at the end of 2019 with the status qualification changes.
    Frankly, I welcome the idea of airlines trying to earn my business again.

  27. @Dave have you ever seen someone die while intubated? It’s worth understanding how that goes before making cracks about people running scared.

  28. This is playing into Scott Kirby’s master plan when he and Oscar shocked Wall Street with the aggressive growth set out in 2018 of 6%-7% annually. But, there was an internal price for that growth; flat headcount growth and not backfilling many vacated positions. So, you can bet that every group VP is having his or her management and admin folks being looked at with a magnifying glass to be ready to be shown the door come October 1st.

    We know not every job would be saved with this pandemic but, Scott is going to use this to his full advantage to cut without regret.

  29. It’s simple: AA has been talking with Trump (Mr Turn the Switch On and Return to the Way We WereJ while UAL is speaking with doctors and governors. That said, given the rapid learning curve with Covid-19, UA is smart to postpone decisions. Oxford University is starting large-scale trials of a vaccine that could be available by the fall. If that were the case, travel has the potential to rebound faster than without a vaccine. An effective treatment (or two or three) could help reduce the severity closer to flu. Saliva testing could provide a low-coat efficient way to test all travelers, increasing anxiety over travel, especially the leisure market. So UA is correct to plan for the worse but also be prepared to respond proactively to improved conditions.

  30. For those who think that the pilots make too much and should be taking pay cuts instead of the less senior or poorer employees, shut up! THEY HAVE TAKEN PAY CUTS! Along with the flight attendants, and others as they are ALL paid hourly, and when the capacity is cut, they cant fly over guarantee which is essentially a pay cut. They are all getting paid guarantee thsts 65-75 fllight hours a month. No extras . And stop with the hate on higher earning people. They’ve most likely worked hard for it!

  31. I think a lot of us are also forgetting that this is a very very different time of our lives. This is history and change of life completely. Recovery will not be the same as before. Everything we deemed normal or took for granted will change – so United in a notion is correct. They are using the CARES act cash and giving a heads up to its staff to start finding other forms of income, the industry will be back – it is critical but not like it has been growing recently. It will be global and not just US etc Sadly many many people will need to change careers and it’s a good time to do so now then 6 months down the line. Believe me the American carriers are doing their best for us. We keep reading the Middle East carriers cutting salary by 50% etc etc but they have sovereign wealth funds to burn thru, lets NEVER forget the same guy who runs Emirates is also the same guy who owns the airport and the same guy that makes the rules for Dubai aviation. So all of them are comedy clubs and they don’t give a hoot about their staff. The bottom of the ladder staff are all getting send back to their countries – they have to keep the pilots on hand. Dubai has more to lose if they send their pilots home as they will then need to also lose money that gets spent in their city as opposed to an economic collapse. We as an industry will face tough tough tough times and it’s a chance to relook at everything in airlines as a whole

  32. You know @Jamie, I get your point. This is not something to be making fun of. But look at the death stats in the US. Almost 500k people from traffic, 500k from smoking every year. Many thousands from gun violence. Isn’t it ironic that that smoking is still allowed, guns are still readily available for everyone and all it takes to get a drivers licence is two feet and the application fee? If you knew how many people die while intubated, whether its in the OR, in the ER, in the ambulance or on intensive care, you wouldn’t make COVID deaths such a big deal. I know it’s hard to rely on facts in such an emotional matter and being factual are easily mistaken for being cold or heartless. If it were up to the people who are crying about COVID and how bad Trump is every day, they would shut down the economy forever and then turn around wondering why everybody is unemployed, depressed and the first riots start.

  33. @Dave You completely miss the point. It is not just the deaths, but the fact that the worst afflicted by Covid-19 are overwhelming the healthcare system and killing off our healthcare workers and first responders by the hundreds. This does not happen with traffic accidents, smoking deaths, gun shot wounds etc. If strong measures are not taken to flatten the curve, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and anarchy would break out if people are dying in the streets. Just take a look at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens for a preview. Half a dozen freezer trucks parked outside for the bodies.

    This is a highly contagious illness, and even those who aren’t hospitalized take weeks to recover. People are contagious well before they show symptoms. Just look at how quickly Covid spread at the Smithfield plant in SD or the aircraft carrier in the Pacific. If we don’t limit the spread with social distancing, then the economy will grind to a halt just from the number of sick people there are. So we need to rethink how we work, travel and interact with others. Until there is a vaccine, we need to change the way we do things. Lear has a 51 page document addressing how it changes things at its plants to enable people to return to work (free on the internet). Every business leader needs to think about how they adapt to get their business going again.

  34. Dave makes a great point. From reporters wearing face masks on the news to saccharine commercials (especially looking at you, Facebook and Walmart, it’s clear that our society right now is more focused on “feel good” measures rather than actually looking at data. A homemade cloth mask is essentially worthless but someone people are now getting shamed in the streets for – gasp – going on a run while not wearing a used t-shirt over their face. But how many people die each year from smoking or car accidents? In a few months the news will be filled with sob stories of restaurants and salons that went out of business. I applaud the people who are pushing back against state shutdowns. I disagree with the confederate flags used in Michigan but isn’t it a little too much when the governor won’t allow people to buy garden or home improvement supplies? It’s bad enough that we’re stuck at home but to not be able to plant a garden? Especially given shortages in grocery stores? It’s a sad state of affairs when our societal coping mechanism is sewing worthless homemade masks and guilting the people who are still trying to live a normal life and support the business that we depend upon.

  35. @Janet Are the healthcare systems really overwhelmed? Killing off healthcare workers by the hundreds? Please! Covid is serious but you are reacting emotionally. In fact, USA Today puts the healthcare deaths at 27 as of 3 days ago (April 14th) as reported by the CDC.

    Covid is serious, but it’s not the mass hysteria that a few are trying to get everyone to believe.

  36. @Paulz, that is a very narrow definition that does not include EMTs and other first responders. At least a dozen members of the NYPD have died of it already. In Italy and Spain the toll of healthcare workers was far higher due to the lack of protective PPE. And I think we would all agree we don’t want a repeat of Italy or Spain in the US. What is your response to the Smithfield plant. I am being very clinical about this. I want the economy to survive. Most economists other than the puppets on Fox News believe a second wave if social distancing is lifted too soon would kill the US economy and more skilled workers than we can afford to lose.

  37. @Paulz, Oh, and please explain why you attribute hysteria to concern over an illness that has gone from 15 cases on Feb 17 to over 680,000 in just two months. No other disease has spread that quickly. And that is with only 1% of the population being tested, suggesting that there are many more out there. What disease kills 35,000 people in just 2 months? Project that over a year…. People have good reason to be nervously. Clearly you don’t know anyone who has had it… amazingly. My 30 year old nephew had it and it took 4 weeks to recover, and he thought he was going to die. It took 2 weeks to even get a test. That was with no comorbidity factors and no hospitalization. Just sweating it out at home.

  38. @Dave – if you want to sound smart, don’t post lies…annual traffic deaths (aka car accidents) in the US run about 38,000. Juuuuuust a bit short of 500,000 as you claim. COVID-19 has hit that (~38K) in a bit over a month now.

    Know TSS (Trump Sycophantic Syndrome) is strong among many people on these blogs, and thus anything to paint the Cheeto in a positive light (especially in his final 200 days in office), but helps to deal in facts.

  39. American is playing it better. At least American is aiming higher and will strive to recover. United already set themself up for failure. Like. We’ll never recover. So we shouldn’t even try.

  40. @Janet Thanks for joining the argument but – as pointed out above – COVID patients don’t kill healthcare workers by the hundreds. My point is that the number of deaths sounds high but isn’t high compared to other metrics. In particular the number of old people or people with previous diseases that would have died even without the virus is higher than most imagine. The only smart compromise we have is to be at a point where the healthcare system operates at its maximum and all capacities are being used.

    “What disease kills 35,000 people in just 2 months? Project that over a year….” That’s just over 200.000 deaths a year. In comparison 650.000 die from heart disease alone, 600.000 from cancer. Some of the 35.000 people who have died MAY have died even without the virus. The “baseline” deaths obviously need to be factored in..

  41. Fact Check – one month ago, there were 110 deaths in the US (per the worldometers chart). Now there are 36,000. And likely a good bit more that haven’t been accounted for due to lack of testing.

  42. He is doing something that is rare amongst any corporation. He is telling the TRUTH! It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that this will last long past October.
    The stimulus package prevents them from laying off workers for a period of time.
    His honestly allows those who will be affected to prepare for the inevitable. Why would he be criticized for this? American CEO Parker’s approach is dishonest yet the status quo amongst most corporations.
    I would appreciate a six month heads up rather than a swift kick in the nuts come Oct 1st.
    Anyone critical of this approach lacks common sense and compassion in these troubled times and clearly has zero knowledge of what a fine line the airline industry rides just to stay in business.
    I applaud Oscar for his honesty.

  43. They’re just pandering to different audiences – and at the moment neither is very focused on customers (who aren’t there today to help them survive). American has a lot more balance sheet debt, with a significantly larger amount coming due in the near term. They are worried about immediate access to the financial markets and are attempting to say reassuring things to keep investor confidence so they can borrow.

    United has less of an immediate bankruptcy concern, so they’re attempting to send a message to Congress and to various other governments about the need to extend aid beyond October in order to avoid (politically costly) job losses.

  44. It is obvious that we all have our “opinions” about how CEOs and leadership of the airlines should be responding and reacting to the decline in flying due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also obvious that opinions are just opinions, unless there are facts that support the claim and/or there is at least some level of expertise to back up the claim.

    It is no secret that there are many different leadership styles, and it is also not a secret that more than one has potential to be successful. It is akin to parenting; what the model looks like depends on how the issues are mitigated. I would like to give all leadership, with the major carriers in conversation, the benefit of the doubt. Based on the dynamics of each carrier, I believe each is doing his best to protect and serve the employees and legacy of that carrier. What I do admire the most, though, is a positive outlook and prudent, creative ways to mitigate the circumstances, i.e., boosting morale AND getting to the heart of the matters at hand.

    On another note, I encourage everyone that is only looking at UA pilot pay to look also at the entire industry. It is obvious that pilot salaries at other legacy carriers are the same, and some even higher. For those that believe pilot pay is inflated, when you fly, I ask you to consider that you entrust them with your life. They deserve to be compensated for the responsibility they bear every time they get in the cockpit.

    My husband is a pilot for one of the major airlines; the minimum flight hours to become an ATP (air transport pilot), airline pilot, is 1500 hours (training for these costs, estimated at a relatively low cost, is approximately 1500 X $100/hr = $150,00). But, and fortunately for passengers’ and crews’ sake, he had approximately 4,000 hours when he was hired (and some of this was military flying where he spent much of his time upside down and out of control with combat flying…not a requirement to be an ATP pilot…but a plus for the safety aspect of the job). This is just one component that is required, and for which accounts for training at a high cost. Other requirements are as follows: Bachelor’s degree, physically fit, expert hand-eye coordination, coachable/teachable spirit, ability to think on the fly due to a dynamic, rapidly changing environment (because a pilot’s office moves 600 MPH!!!), strong communication skills, weather expert (because this DOES affect flying…and, at times, mid flight), aerodynamics expert, and mechanical expert (because when something goes wrong, it is necessary to know mechanics in order to mitigate issues). In addition, just 90 days of not landing an airplane, the FAA requires a pilot complete training just to be able to fly again; every 9 months, the FAA requires emergency training (engine failures, hydraulic system failures, pressurization failures, and the like) and security threat training.

    Depending on the company a pilot works for, yes, there is immense earning potential. And, while some pilots are paid well, their level of expertise also comes at a high price, literally and figuratively. And, to the average individual, a pilot’s job is mundane and relatively easy. After all, he/she can just engage auto pilot, to sit back and enjoy the flight…NOT!!!!!!! Pilots don’t get paid for what they DO; they get paid for what they CAN DO!!! For just a couple examples, because there are too many to mention, research of UA Flight 232 and more recently, US Airways Flight 1549, supports this. The rigor of a pilot’s job is inconceivable to most, and for those that see it as these individuals are overpaid and not really earning their paycheck, I say, go try it.

  45. But UAL went ahead and sold and leased planes back from a Chinese bank! Smart move on their part to lose even more passengers! Good riddance United! Will NEVER fly this airline again!

  46. F***k them all, Airlines are some of the lousiest businesses around. Let them all go out of business. Private equity money will pour in, and give birth to a new batch of Airlines in a New York minute.

  47. Munoz & Kirby “not that bright”? Wishful thinking but somebody. Parker (AA) is the guy that most analysts considered to be in over his head. Check it out.

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