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UA's Viability / Financial Future due to the COVID-19 Era [Consolidated]

Old Mar 20, 2020, 9:29 pm
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In recent days a number of threads have started touching on the impacts on UA as a business going forward due to the travel disruption of COVID-19 --- including multiple Viability / Bankruptcy / Bailout discussions. While inconceivable a few months ago, UA (and all commercial airlines) is facing challenges that are uncharted.

This consolidated thread has been created by merging a number of existing threads that trend to address essentially the same subjects.

Some thread guidelines
-- This thread / forum is for discussing UA and the UA traveler, so please focus on UA in these discussions. Other forums exist to discuss other carriers or the industry in general -- we do just UA here.
-- This thread is for discussion of how UA gets from here to its future state.
-- All the standard FT rules apply. We will have a civil, constructive, collegial discussion -- even in these turbulent times.
-- While much of this will play out in the political arena, this forum is not the place for political / OMNI discussions. Please use threads in appropriate forums for that, such as Covid-19 US tax cuts or fiscal stimulus
-- Similarly, discussions of the evils / greed of corporations or other broad societal issues are out of scope, those are for OMNI -- let's stick to discussing UA, its past and its future here
-- Please do not start new threads on these topics in the UA forum. One reason for this consolidated thread was to minimize the redundant posts in separate threads. There is plenty of room in the scope of this thread to cover all aspects of these topics. (Note things like M&A, restructuring, ... would all be in scope).
-- Please once you have laid out your position, do not repetitively re-state that opinion. It is usually a better discussion if many participate vs a few dominating the thread

On behalf of the UA Moderator Team
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UA's Viability / Financial Future due to the COVID-19 Era [Consolidated]

Old Mar 9, 2020, 1:50 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by goodeats21
I was poking around looking for a decent fare for a close-in (time-wise) weekend get away. Over the next 3 weekends - Couldn't locate anything worthwhile.
Wonder if United has tweaked their revenue management tools sufficiently for these unique circumstances?
I don't see any domestic fares/routes that seem particularly cheaper then before...nothing crazy good that sticks out. Annoyingly my ORD-CHA route is still locked in place at $665 for week day travel
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 1:54 pm
  #17  
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I can't see UA collapsing. If everything hits the fan, federal money will come to the rescue.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:23 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by dilanesp
I agree with our moderator. AA is in the most difficult situation of the big three.

Also, bear in mind the situation is very fluid. An airline bailout package (similar to the way the auto industry was bailed out after the financial crisis) is a distinct possibility down the road.
The American public sees the auto industry in a lot more favorable light than the airline industry. There was a lot more support for saving "American Made" cars than there probably is to save an industry that has repeatedly screwed over the customer at every turn.

Maybe the bad-will generated by a decade of baggage fees, minimal seat pitch, and poor customer service will be coming home to roost?
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:28 pm
  #19  
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Its not like 9-11 at all. They put FAM's on flights (useless as they are), they implemented the TSA (ha) ... and people felt re-assured. The chance of a 9-11 style attack after that basically collapsed because everyone was on notice.
sure, people were flight-shy..

Now there's a virus of non-trivial lethality making the rounds(apparently) stealthily. People are saying "no thank you". Hopefully in a few months there will be viable treatments available and progress with some vaccine candidates.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:34 pm
  #20  
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Originally Posted by jsloan
Yes.


It hardly matters. Voluntarily going out of business out of a desire to “protect your customers” isn’t an option.
On which routes? I was looking at some of the remaining UA flights to Asia such as Singapore and the fare still doesn't seem that cheap.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:35 pm
  #21  
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Originally Posted by emcampbe
The CNN report was quite vague about the information he government wanted. I suspect it would also take the airlines some time to properly add it as part of the process (ie, at check in) to OLCI, kiosks, agent screens, etc.

im also not sure the value of asking if people have been to China in the last 48 hours unless you are sure you are going to get accurate responses. Even of the people who have, who is going to admit that if they realize it could cause them trouble? It’s like when they used to ask the question in the early 2000s about whether you packed your bags yourself and whether it has been out of your site - is anyone going to admit this, particularly anyone who has nefarious intent?
I think Air Canada still ask this when checking in online?
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:36 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
On which routes? I was looking at some of the remaining UA flights to Asia such as Singapore and the fare still doesn't seem that cheap.
I didn't say that they have slashed fares. The question was, will they? The answer to that question is yes, they will (in the sense of "they would" -- not a prediction of the future, but rather an answer in the conditional). However, their first attempt has been to slash capacity instead, in the hopes of propping the fares up. If that works, they'll never need to slash fares too, but I have my doubts.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:37 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
I think Air Canada still ask this when checking in online?
Pretty much every flight into the US asks this.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:39 pm
  #24  
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Originally Posted by jamesinclair
The American public sees the auto industry in a lot more favorable light than the airline industry. There was a lot more support for saving "American Made" cars than there probably is to save an industry that has repeatedly screwed over the customer at every turn.

Maybe the bad-will generated by a decade of baggage fees, minimal seat pitch, and poor customer service will be coming home to roost?
I pretty much agree with you on all of your points. UA have been in the news for all of the wrong reasons over the years. I think the time has come where the consumer may be in the driver's seat. This is an opportunity for another carrier to step up and earn the goodwill of the American public. I really don't feel sorry for UA if it finds itself in a difficult financial situation.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:43 pm
  #25  
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Originally Posted by jsloan
I didn't say that they have slashed fares. The question was, will they? The answer to that question is yes, they will (in the sense of "they would" -- not a prediction of the future, but rather an answer in the conditional). However, their first attempt has been to slash capacity instead, in the hopes of propping the fares up. If that works, they'll never need to slash fares too, but I have my doubts.
Logically I would expect them to slash their fares. I do remember seeing another FT member's post about why Hyatt hotel prices haven't dropped any further in light of the collapse in tourism in Hong Kong. Perhaps UA isn't going down that path right now because this is as low as they're prepared to go with fares even if it means flying with a low load percentage.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:44 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
I pretty much agree with you on all of your points. UA have been in the news for all of the wrong reasons over the years. I think the time has come where the consumer may be in the driver's seat. This is an opportunity for another carrier to step up and earn the goodwill of the American public. I really don't feel sorry for UA if it finds itself in a difficult financial situation.
....?

All US airlines are, pretty much, equally despised, except Southwest, because their flight attendants tell jokes. (:shrug. UA flyers hate UA, DL flyers hate DL, AA flyers hate AA. Yesterday, I was on a UA flight with a guy who claimed that he had major (3+ hour) delays on 7 straight DL itineraries when he had to fly them last year. It's a "grass is always greener" mentality.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 2:51 pm
  #27  
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Originally Posted by jsloan
....?

All US airlines are, pretty much, equally despised, except Southwest, because their flight attendants tell jokes. (:shrug. UA flyers hate UA, DL flyers hate DL, AA flyers hate AA. Yesterday, I was on a UA flight with a guy who claimed that he had major (3+ hour) delays on 7 straight DL itineraries when he had to fly them last year. It's a "grass is always greener" mentality.
If what you say is true, then I must be in the tiny minority. I have actually enjoyed all of my DL flights so far.

I do generally agree with your last sentence.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 3:14 pm
  #28  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan
....?

All US airlines are, pretty much, equally despised, except Southwest, because their flight attendants tell jokes. (:shrug. UA flyers hate UA, DL flyers hate DL, AA flyers hate AA. Yesterday, I was on a UA flight with a guy who claimed that he had major (3+ hour) delays on 7 straight DL itineraries when he had to fly them last year. It's a "grass is always greener" mentality.
This year I added a few flights that sampled UA, DL, AA, SW and AS and will respectfully disagree, before I had a perception similar to yours, after multiple flights on SW and more then enough on the other big three don't think SW is so far above ( and jokes get no mileage with me in my judgement ) and given how they run it don't think they stand anywhere far ahead of AS or DL, but agree UA and AA bring up the rear.

BTW also agree with other posters there is no way they US will allow any of the big three to go under, as vilified as they are, they are a necessary evil for every modern economic power to have their local travel interested protected and monitized!
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 4:26 pm
  #29  
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220
''

AA's debt load makes it the most threatened of the US3. DL's deep pockets and better margins make it the most secure. UA is somewhere in the middle.

I expect things will pick up in Q3. After 9/11 it took about three months to get people back to the airports.
Well 9/11 was a single event in a single country. This is an ongoing global train wreck. I don't think the comparison is accurate.
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Old Mar 9, 2020, 4:33 pm
  #30  
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Originally Posted by BearX220
''

AA's debt load makes it the most threatened of the US3.
AA wouldn't be much of a loss at this point. Let it fail and sell off the profitable assets to other companies.
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