If UA goes down?


New Member
What will happen to the major hubs in Chicago and Denver, will those become ghost towns are will other airlines start aquiring the space there?
I think if UAL goes down, who knows.

But I'm guessing that you'll see some new discount startups attempt to enter the market, fizzle and fade away, much like the post de-regulation years.

Or you might see another major start operations.

Or you may see the AMR (in ORD) and Frontier (in DEN) expand operations somewhat.

Basically, I really can't say with any confidence that anyone truly knows what/if/whatever.

UAL going under is bad news.

First you're going to have 500 more aircraft parked in the desert along with 7,000 or so out of work brothers.

Boeing and Airbus are going to hurt because why purchase a new 737 or A320 when there are a crapload sitting in the desert that they can acquire from debtors for pennies on the dollar.

You're probably going to see everyone under the sun try to fill the demand from UAL hub cities which may reintroduce overcapacity in certain markets.

Skywest, Atlantic Coast and Air Wisconsin are going to take major hits and may dump pilots onto the open market. Primarily because they're going to have no one to feed and don't have the reservations network, route support network, or even brand name affinity to recapture passengers.

Bad news man. Bad bad news if they don't make it.
There'se been a lot of talk about United going under, and arguments about how it would effect the industry. But how concerned should we be. Maybe we should be more concerned with the possibility of United going down in the first place. No need to argue if the problem may not even exist.

What does everyone think?
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Will United go under?
<input type="radio" name="option" value="1" />Yup, they're done. They don't stand a chance.
<input type="radio" name="option" value="2" />They probably won't make it, but its a little too soon to tell.
<input type="radio" name="option" value="3" />I have no clue, I didn't major in economics.
<input type="radio" name="option" value="4" />They probably will make it, but its a little too soon to tell.
<input type="radio" name="option" value="5" />They'll be fine. They just need time to recover.
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By the way skyboober, love that name, to answer your original question, I don't know about United's other hubs but I think DEN will get other airlines making a hub there. I'm not sure what the deal was, but I heard something about how United made some sort of agreement with Continental to get them to close thier Denver hub, making United the only major to have a hub at DEN. If that is true, we can expect to see other airlines moving in, especially with space available and routes available. I never really understood why Denver wasn't a hub city for more airlines. Seems to be the perfect spot for a hub, right smack in the middle of the country, even in the middle of the continent. Couldn't be much better. Pretty much any route from anywhere to anywhere can stop in Denver without going too far out of the way, except maybe from Miami to Atlanta or something.
If UA gives up on DEN... which according to the latest news they are considering it. I read they are looking at shrinking ala CO in the early 90s... Anyway, as for DEN i heard from a CO pilot that they have a few plans in place if UA does leave. One of those plans is for CO to come into DEN with 129 flights a day. Sort of move their cleveland hub out here. CO used to own DEN but then pulled out in the early 90s but the place is set up pefectly for them and they still have a HUGE hangar out here. I would bet that NW, DL and AA would also grow some in DEN but AA would probably rather wait it out and try and take over all of ORD so that would make their buildup in DEN look less likely. I have heard people say DL could move their hub in SLC to DEN but I dont see the point in that, SLC and DEN can essentially serve the same purpose.

As for us at Frontier, there is no way we could take over all the routes that UA has. we only have around 40 aircraft (half 319s and half 737) total and from what i hear we are expecting about 6 more 319s in the next two months and then this summer the A318s arrive. We just are not big enough to fill UAs shoes and that is not the type of airline we are. Although within a year I could totally see Frontier taking over all or nearly all of the A concourse.

One major thing i am not sure of is i have heard that CO still owns the leases to all of A concourse. I am wondering if CO would move F9 over to Concourse B and CO takes all of A, or will CO just go straight over to B and leave F9 with all of A? I would bet that CO would just move their ops over to B concourse though as it is about twice the size and would fit a major airline hub.

People in DEN will still need to fly from here to there... the same # of people will be flying if not more when better product is available, its just that a more efficient airline will be operating the routes. DIA will not become a ghosttown, there is no way that happens.

My question is the regionals that serve UA... Just as Doug said, those guys could be out of a job quick (thus us rookie pilots would never get a job) or they could just put a sticker on their tails and fly pretty much the same routes for CO which will need a feeder just as UA did? In this case if all goes well and the economy gets better after the Iraq thing is over, perhaps regionals will be hiring again?

we shall see, Tim
I don't really worry that UA won't make it. I think that they will recover, it's just going to take time. It's probably also going to take come court ordered concessions from some of the labor groups.

There are a few people at my company (mostly senior types) who actually hope that our relationship with UA dissolves so that we can become a low fare carrier using CRJs. As they see it, UA is actually limiting our growth. I've heard that 60-70% of the people that fly my company, start and finish their flights with us. It would require hiring in ticketing and marketing.

Most of us, however, are strongly pulling for UA, if for no other reason than, as Doug put it, if we go on our own, there will be a lot of furloughs. Secondly, most of us would like to move up to a major carrier at some point, and if there are thousands of jobless UA pilots out there, the pilot pool will be overflowing for some time to come.
Yeah I hope United will be ok. The (until the recent TWA takeover by AA) largest airline in the world doesn't just go belly up and disapear overnight.
If United does go bust, how long do you guys think it will take for the industry to recover to a point where a pilot with say...1500-2000TT and 300-500 multi will be able to get a regional job?
hemmm..i don't see United falling down that easy. Strong hub at SFO, ASIA, ORD, AND DEN-United has a good chance of weathering the storm as long as the employees agree on the concession plan management is currently working on and so forth. It took a couple of bankruptcies for Panama and TWA to go down so United is still in good hands. So don't count them out-they have been around for a long time
Good luck finding the employees while they are at work so they can talk to management. From what I have heard all the ones here in DEN are taking all their sick leave and vacation time while they can.

In my opinion, what you consider their strength, them being around for so long... I consider their weakness as they are unwilling to keep up with their own industry as it changes.

I give em till May and if they dont seriously downsize/liquidate or at least raise ticket prices, they will be gone by the summer.
I think United's plans for closing or selling their west coast operations, including DEN, were just long range, "what if" plans that they presented to BK court. They wanted to show that they ARE working up plans in case their current business plan doesn't work. . . that's just my outside understanding.

The Skywest CEO said that if United does go down, we are in an excellent position to feed who(m)ever fills the gap, or take off on our own. I think we've got the cash on hand and western exposure to set up our own operation.
I think United - at least as we know it - is gone. No question. Will they completley go out of business? Probably. Will it happen overnight? No, but it will probably be sooner than later.

For those of you that think United can't go out of business because they are one of the "Big 3" - go find some old Eastern, Pan Am, and TWA guys and get their opinions. The history of this industry is replete with 'powerhouse' airlines that go out of business or downsize to the point of fading away into the sunset for a variety of reasons. Some of them mount a strong comeback(Continental), some of them don't(Eastern). If you want to know how a United closing would affect the industry just go back and look at what happened when these other airlines went out of business.

Yes it would dump a ton of pilots in the market and it would take a while to recover to the point where 2000 or even 3000 hour pilots would have a chance at a regional job but it will eventually recover - how long depends on a whole myriad of things that no one cna predict.

One thing to keep in mind is that if someone like United does go belly up and they have say 7,000 pilots on their list not all of them will stay in aviation. The older guys that are fairly close to retirement - and even alot of them younger guys - probably won't be willing to go start all over at the bottom of a regional senority list for a variety of reasons. Also as Doug mentioned there will be alot of startups and other airlines expanding so that will create some jobs. Point being that United going out of business doesn't necessarily mean there will be 7000 pilots on the street but there will be alot and it will have a dramatic effect on hiring.

Sadly, I believe the reality of the answer to "if UAL goes down" that we've been dancing around is this:

A LOT of us will never see the cockpit at a major airline.

As it is right now, it may take anywhere from 5 to 10 years before the majors are back in full hiring mode again.

Having thousands of INCREDIBLY qualified pilots looking for jobs (granted, a few will hang it up) will do little to help any of us "newbies"... regardless of where you trained.
Here's an early 1990's refresher for everyone. When I graduated from college in 1993, I tried my darndest to get into WestAir (United Express) and Skywest (Delta Connection) because they both had big enough operations to enable me to live at home, save money and build flight time.

In the the early 1990's, Skywest was hiring pilots averaging 4000TT/2000ME and WestAir at 3500TT/2000ME because Eastern, Pan Am and a bunch of fly by night discount carriers went defunct and there were lots of pilots on the streets, including furloughs at Delta, American and Continental.

It UAL goes tango uniform, it doesn't take Nostadamus to tell you that things will suck beyond belief.

But here's the good news. The industry eventually climbed out of the doldrums.

I've used the word "cyclical" way too many times in this website, but I'd like to adopt the phrase "tidal" because that's what the industry is.
How many U.S. pilots would leave home and move overseas if they lose their job here? I know in Canada a lot of pilots from Canada 3000 have found jobs with Singapore, Emirates, etc. Their doesn't seem to be as many American drivers flocking overseas as there are say canuck or aussie pilots. Maybe because they'd be making less money? Maybe there are a lot of expat U.S. pilots out there and I just haven't heard about it?
Yeah it does happen. I remember when I graduated from Purdue several people I know of went to the UAE to fly 1900's or something. From what I heard it wasn't a bad gig but none of them stayed - they got a crap load of multi turbine time and then came back to the US. I think the biggest factor right now is that the airline business is down in every country and not just the US - there simply aren't many airline jobs anywhere in the world.

Well I've heard Australian trainied pilots are in high demand in Asia. Generally the training here tends to be better, and alreadying being able to speak english is a definate bonus. But who wants to live in Singapore? Not I.
One of my friends from college went to fly "UNICEF" rice in a Cessna Caravan over in Africa.

Another one of my friends at Delta worked for Cathay Pacific before he got hired in the US.

Mrs. Heron-Weeber over at Pan Am-DVT's husband commutes from PHX to HKG and works for Cathay.

My pal Joe almost took a job in El Salvador flying 737's.

A few America West pilots went down to Australia to fly struck work.

People will and do get creative during a sh*tty job market.

If UAL pulls out of the west coast, it would be emotionally heartbreaking because those are the guys that helped spark my interest in aviation when I was a kid.