Post-Carnage United Headed Out Of Bankruptcy

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A judge granted United Air Lines approval to move out of bankruptcy protection on Friday. Although United is on schedule to make the move Feb. 1, it might take some time for that relatively good news to translate to smiles on the faces of rank and file workers. After laying off 25,000 workers, cutting pay and replacing defined benefit pension plans with 401K plans for its front-line workers as part of its reorganization, the company rewarded 400 top management personnel by giving them 8 percent of 125 million new shares to be issued by the company. Still, seated aboard the new share cushion, company brass said the reorganization was even tougher than they thought it would be. They also believe the leaner, meaner United still has its work cut out in regaining profitability. The next step could well be a merger of some sort. While under bankruptcy protection, United wasn't able to troll for partners the way US Airways was when it merged with America West and solidified its presence in the western and southern areas of the country. "Consolidation is inevitable," Chief Financial Officer Jack Brace told reporters.. "What our restructuring has done is give us the ability to participate in consolidation or not."