According to most reports, UA has somewhere between 3.5 and 4 Billion dollars of unencumbered planes to use as collateral.
On those planes, according to a knowledgeable source on USAviation.com, United is probably not going to get 1 dollar in financing for every dollar of value. This same source claimed that United would probably only realize approximately 2 Billion dollars of financing on 4 Billion dollars of collateral. Whether that has to do with United's poor crediting rating or the likelihood that many of the unencumbered planes are 747's, the source over at USAviation.com did not clarify.
United has gone to the ATSB because it is unhappy with the terms that most private or public placements would offer. United is not only complaining that it can't get full value on its collateral, but also that the costs of financing are 1.25 greater than those being offered to competitors like American, Delta, and Northwest.
Therein lies one of the weaknesses of their application to the ATSB. By mentioning to the ATSB that they can't get the same interest rates as American, Delta, and Northwest, they've forced the ATSB to wonder whether approving United's loan would interfere with the natural progress of a free market economy as it pertains to the airline industry. In other words, if United has access to capital even at higher rates, then, the ATSB might reason that that is only fair given the stronger balance sheets of its competitors. After all, Congress declared the ATSB to be a lender of last resort. They are not Fannie Mae/FHA.
If United's application had any true merit, I suspect that the ATSB would have already ruled on it. They are probably trying to determine how hard United has tried to get financing. I wouldn't be surprised if they have tried to facilitate that financing. It would be a way of helping United without giving them the loan guarantees. Or, they could have issued United an informal ultimatum. Get the IAM and AFA to make some wage concessions and we will issue some kind of conditional approval with a demand for more specific concessions. Whatever the case, it is not a good sign that it is taking this long.
For United's sake, I hope they still have the number of the lender who offered them 2 Billion dollars at 1.25 the rates offered to American, Delta, and Northwest.