Release #08.UAL16
December 29, 2008


United Pilots: Leadership Void Costly for UAL in 2008

Chicago, Ill.,— Pilots for United Airlines said today that under CEO Glenn Tilton’s watch, United Airlines in 2008 clearly failed in its efforts to regain its former stature as the world’s preeminent airline. Over the past year, the airline has been plagued by an appalling lack of leadership and vision among Tilton and his executives. Tilton and his executives have kept United Airlines mired in financial and operational stagnation ever since it exited bankruptcy nearly three years ago.

Based upon Tilton’s past performance, the pilots see no signs that things are going to get better in the future under his watch. During Tilton’s tenure, the pilots point out, it has been apparent that United does not have a strategy that will enable it to take charge of its destiny.

“In many ways, United Airlines has moved backward,” said Captain Steve Wallach, chairman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association. “To its pilots, employees and passengers, United Airlines is but a shell of its former self. Rather than using the reorganization afforded by bankruptcy, including the billions of dollars contributed by the pilots and other employees to build upon United’s core strengths and brand equity, Mr. Tilton and his executives squandered a rare opportunity to return this airline to its leadership position in the airline industry.

“United has reacted to events, as opposed to anticipating and controlling them. As just one example, as a former oil industry executive, one would have expected Tilton to have taken early and decisive action to hedge against rising fuel costs. The record shows that he failed dismally in this task.

“Mr. Tilton’s consistent answer to United’s problems has been to penalize those who contribute the most to United’s success: its employees and its customers,” said Captain Wallach. “While Tilton and his hand-picked executives have continued to receive increasing benefits for themselves, employees have been laid off, and our passengers have been inconvenienced with a series of ill-timed and ill-conceived fees and unpopular cutbacks in service. To paraphrase an old advertising expression, ‘This is no way to run an airline,’ but that’s what you can expect from a former oil company executive, clearly someone unfamiliar with running a service industry, who never before had to care about his employees or serve the needs of his customers.”

A look at the Tilton record over the past year tells the story of missed opportunities, lack of leadership and dismal performance:

“2008 alone proves that Tilton’s so-called leadership at United is a failure,” said Captain Wallach. “Tilton’s body of work during his tenure at United Airlines speaks for itself. It simply is not working. The pilots recognize it. The employees recognize it. The passengers certainly recognize it. The investment community recognizes it. It’s time for the United Board of Directors to realize it. United Airlines must free itself from failed leadership and lack of vision so that it can become, once again, the airline for which pilots and employees are proud to work, and on which passengers will want to fly.”

For more information regarding United pilots’ call for new leadership at United Airlines, go to its website

ALPA Contact:
Dave Kelly