March 18, 2008
United Pilots Blast Company’s Plan to Ground Planes
Chicago, Ill., March 18, 2008—United Airlines’ announcement today that it plans to eliminate 15 to 20 planes from its fleet and delay the purchase of newer aircraft signals, once again, that the current management team is incapable of leading this airline. It is clear to the pilots that United CEO Glenn Tilton and his upper management team haven’t learned the simple lesson that an airline cannot shrink its way to profitability.
Using fuel prices to justify its latest cost-saving scheme is typical of a management team that refuses to acknowledge the real problems that have been plaguing United Airlines for too long. United Airlines pays out among the lowest wages in the airline industry, yet it has the highest non-labor and non-fuel costs.
“Cutting its fleet of airplanes does not address the larger cost problems that continue to beleaguer this airline,” said United MEC Chairman Captain Steve Wallach. “Instead of doling out hundreds of million of dollars to shareholders and pocketing millions of dollars in bonuses and salary increases, perhaps management should reinvest that money into our operation.”
“We will not be waiving the sections of our contract that guarantee minimum block hours for our pilots that this move may require. Blaming the price of fuel for management’s perceived cost woes rings hollow,” Wallach said. “Fuel is a transparent cost shared by all airlines. All airlines need to price their product according to commodity costs, but shrinking the airline to achieve profitability has been demonstrated to be a failed business practice. Management’s cries of poverty now fall on deaf ears. The time has come for Glenn Tilton and his team to stop making excuses and demonstrate the leadership required to navigate this airline into the future.”