Well, seeing that this was a nodeshell, I might as well put this here. I can add more info about the airline itself later.

Febuary 5, 2002: United has major, imminent problems.

The mechanics are voting next week on whether or not to approve their new contract, which promises a 1/3 pay raise after 8 years with no raises. There is a chance that the union could reject the contract, initiating an immediate strike.
    Should the strike happen, here's what goes down:
  • Mechanics set up picket lines at most major airports and United facilities around the country. The unions of other United employees (pilots, stewardesses, etc.) would probably respect the pickets and either stay home or join them.
  • Next, the airline starts losing some serious cash (United is already at a precarious point financially). They can't sustain the current flight load without union mechanics. After all, the FAA requires that airplanes have been checked by mechanics before they can fly.
  • Finally, only a few days after the strike begins, United declares bankruptcy. It would only take a couple of days to break this company. Which isn't a loss for management, since then the company would go to bankruptcy court, and all the employee contracts would be evaluated by a judge. This would force the mechanics (and all other United employees) to take whatever the judge gives them.
    So, here are the mechanics' options:
  1. Approve the contract, take a pay raise, and skate by for a few more years to bargain for more.
  2. Reject the contract, keep the same 1994 pay, or possibly kill their company and lose their jobs, while fucking all United employees over, and allowing the management to screw with everyone's contract with a bankruptcy judge at the same time.

IN ANOTHER SCENARIO, President Bush has said that he would not allow a mechanic strike. He might force the mechanics to go back to work, which seems like a nice solution. But keep in mind: We were all forced by the government to go to school, and remember what great work we did there. Imagine if mechanics are forced to do a job that they really don't want to do, but instead of hearing lectures and taking tests, they are maintaining delicate airplanes that carry millions of people a day. You don't want these people to be really unhappy on the job. Something similar happened at Eastern Airlines, I believe.

To sum it up, there could be serious problems at United in the matter of weeks, or even days. I'll update this writeup when the mechanics vote, and we'll see where the chips land.

On a personal note, this situation affects me, seeing that my dad works for United and could conceivably be out of a job if things happen as I outlined here. He's also the reason why I know about this.

Come fly the friendly skies. Despite the fact that it is on the verge of bankruptcy at this writing, United (UA) is one of the three largest airlines in the world (the other two are American Airlines and Delta Air Lines). It is headquartered at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, and has hubs at San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Washington Dulles. It is also the largest carrier in the Star Alliance.

In the beginning, United was an air transport subsidiary of Boeing: it was spun off from its parent company in 1934 when the nation's air mail network was overhauled. In its early days, United's fleet consisted mostly of Boeing 247's, and was later updated with Sud Caravelles and Boeing 727's.

Until airline deregulation in 1978, United was fairly stagnant in comparison to other U.S. majors, peaking only with its acquisition of Capital Airlines that temporarily made it the largest airline in America. In the 1980's, however, it began its expansion over the Pacific Ocean, and by 1990 was operating an extensive international network to Europe and Latin America, much of which had been purchased from the defunct Pan Am.

Then, in 1993, United experienced its first major financial hiccup, losing a record $957 million. At the end of 1993, United's parent corporation, UAL, reached an agreement with its employees to lower salaries in exchange for stock options in the company, which temporarily stopped United's slide and gave key labor unions seats on the board of directors.

United's current problems are facing a large portion of the industry: the gargantuan airlines that have operated on the same business models for over two decades, relying on corporate expense accounts and ridiculously high ticket prices for last-minute travel. Many hope that the bankruptcies of United, US Airways, and potentially other airlines (AA is rumored to be next) will force the industry to rethink its strategy, and follow the business practices of more profitable carriers like jetBlue and Southwest Airlines.

Their fleet currently consists of:

United's aircraft average 10 years in age, making theirs one of the oldest fleets among the U.S. majors.

Livery: Gray and blue
VIP lounge: Red Carpet Club
Frequent flyer program: Mileage Plus
Slogan: "Rising"

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