Tuesday, June 3, 2008

United Airlines is downsizing

United Airlines tried very hard to find another airline to merger with. However, with all those efforts failing, it was time for United’s CEO Glenn Tilton to make some hard decisions.

In the downsizing, domestic flying will be hardest hit with a 17%-18% reduction in the number of available seat miles by the end of 2009. This will be accomplished by the retirement of all of United’s 737s, which is actually a very good thing. These planes have become pretty ugly inside, in bad need of refurbishment. A lot of frequent flyers won’t be sorry to see these planes go, to be replaced by nicer Airbuses and 70 seat regional planes.

United’s ‘low cost’ option, TED will be eliminated. This will mean the return of First Class seats, allowing those passengers who are flying in a premium class to stay in a premium class (on planes with more than 70 seats) throughout their entire itinerary. That’s a very good thing, too.

On the international side, 6 747s, the absolutely most uncomfortable plane flying today, will be eliminated. Good news, of course, for the international traveler.

More on the domestic site, United Express will be up. So domestic capacity will be down about 13%. As expected, less flights and smaller planes will make up the bulk of the reduced capacity. The other reduction will be by the withdrawal from some markets.

It’s nice seeing United making these changes and doing what needs to be done to try and make the airline profitable. Unfortunately, for the traveler, it will mean higher fares and less flight options. And for United employees, it will mean some job losses.

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