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O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:55 am

Can you imagine that!!!?
Everybody is talking about United going out of business, since they have a hard time recovering from Chapter 11. I know this is hard to imagine and something not fun to talk about but I'd like to hear your point of view about what Chicago O'Hare will become if the worst thing happens, that is United goes into Chapter 7.

I see three possibilies:

1. US Airways takes over the former United hub in Terminal 1 which has concourses B and C and I wouldn't be surprised if they open hourly flights during business days from O'Hare to NY La Guardia because they have always been strong in La Guardia. As discussed in another topic, US Airways joing Star is a likely possibility so Lufthansa could still keep the two departure gates they currently have in Terminal 1.

2. Northwest takes over that hub in Terminal 1. In that case they would pull out of Memphis and consolidate a strong network in the northern part of the United States with three big hubs in the MidWest: Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis. They already have Detroit and Minneapolis, needless to say.

3. If neither US Airways or Northwest takes over that hub, American could get very strong in O'Hare by buying some slots left empty by United and get settled in Terminal 2 as well. In that case, American would be the only airline having a hub at O'Hare and they would have both Terminals 2 and 3. Other carriers that have the gates in Terminal 2, as well as Delta which has gates in the L concourse in Termial 3, would move to Terminal 1 left empty by United. The B concourse would be used by those carriers and the C concourse would be closed indefinitely.

In any case, Terminal 5 which is the international arrivals building remains the same for international carriers, except that you might see a few more AA or NW international flights arriving there, whichever takes over the slots left empty. I don't think US Airwyas would have international flights out of O'Hare because they don't seem to be very strong in the transatlantic market and they have nothing in the Pacific market. No, if it's US Airways, I see that as a domestic hub only.
I don't see Delta or Continental taking over Chicago because Delta already has hubs in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Atlanta (Atlanta and Cincinnati are already not too far from each other), and Continental would more likely move to Denver to expand it's domestic network in the west of the United States. Remember that Continental did have a hub in Denver.
Southwest and ATA will stay in Chicago Midway.
I imagine that there'll be a beautiful book released in all the libraries at O'Hare with the following tilte:
United Airlines 1931-2003

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium
Ben Soriano
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:00 am

So you think DL wouldn't move in because it has a hub at CVG, which is too close? Well, both MSP and DTW are closer than CVG, yet you see no prob with NW moving in?

I can't really imagine any of your suggestions taking place... US taking over the ORD hub? With what? No planes, no money etc etc.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:14 am

US is probably in the best position of any major. David Bronner has agreed to keep them in business, and to buy any UA assets necessary.

Why would NW want to leave Memphis? So they could have an even bigger service gap in the Southeastern US? DTW and ORD aren't far apart, nor are ORD and MSP.

ATL and CVG are a good distance from each other... and serve very different purposes in the DL network. The CVG hub is a gateway from the Northeast to the rest of the country, and the ATL hub is a gateway from everywhere to everywhere.

I think both US and CO are going to rush towards Denver. And I think US will be in a better position to do so. CO will ramp up flights from the rest of their A concourse gates after UA leaves them, and maybe the rest of concourse A if F9 moves to Concourse B.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 10:15 am

i was gonna say the exact same thing!

but what do you other people think about the possibilities of ord without united?
Come fly with US
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:04 am

I'd imagine it'd be something of a death knell to STL... as AA would no doubt want to move as much capacity as it could (not sure what obligations it has to the city of STL however) to ORD.
Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre c'est impossible sans Concorde!
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:20 am

Other carriers will pick up the slack,, at least on the domestic side of the operation.

DL has been wanting to expand its presence in Chicago for some time. It would take the total demise of UA before DL grows there.

Expect more flights to the majors hubs and a stronger presence of DL to Florida in that event.

AA will do what they have to do, quite possibly at the expense of STL.

US???? Perhaps flights to LGA and BOS, but not much more beyond that.

Alaska Airlines.....SEA, SFO, LAX.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 12:51 pm

O'HARE wouldnt be O'HARE. now you just have an airport.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:01 pm

The only good think about UAL is their 737s, 757s, 767s, 777s, 747s...the rest CRJs, A319s, A320s is rubbish. And the rubbish puts out 50%+ of the UAL traffic at ORD....
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:25 pm

AA would take over term 1 and have international gates put in so they dont have to use term 5, eagle would take term 2, nw/co/us/hp would take term 3 along with jet blue coming in
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 1:42 pm

The A319s and A320s are rubbish?

Better than one big Boeing homogeny - which is what you'll get if its just AA.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 2:01 pm

NW making a hub at ORD would make no sense why 3 hubs that close to each other?

If anything NW would want to make a hub at IAD before ORD, taking over IAD's United hub.

Delta invested too much in its CVG hub to move to ORD and the CVG hub is newer and nicer than United's ORD hub

I could see Delta perhaps making ORD a focus city.

The only airlines I could see moving into the UA terminal would be AA with someone else moving to where AA was and all of the other airlines increasing services to ORD.

Another possibility could be CO closing its CLE hub and moving to ORD spreading out their services more making ORD, EWR and IAH its hubs
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 2:21 pm

I really dont think ORD is the crown jewel if UA goes under, there are 3 things that will be hotly contested.

1) The Denver hub-CO, US, and to a lesser extent NW will fight for the gates and routes tooth and nail. Denver is a fantastic market with good yields, and an is in an excellent position geographically for services to points west.

2) Authority to fly to London Heathrow-Although there are only two airlines (CO and DL) that will be able to put up a significant compensation package for the routes. I have a feeling that Continental will push hard for the rights to LHR, but DL win the rights in the end.

3) The Pacific Routes-Again, I can only see CO and DL putting up big money for the routes across the Pacific, although the yields to most market are very good, the route structures tend to be complicated and somewhat seasonal.
As for the rest of the hubs:
SEA-AS will pick up most of the slack left by UA, whatever is leftover will most likely be picked up by NW.

SFO-Whoever gains the coveted Pacific routes will gain most of the market-share in SFO, and also take over many domestic routes...Again, AS looks like a likely candidate to clean up the scraps left by the major that takes over the former UA hub. However, I can envision AA will fight hard against AS to take over some regional routes. The only problem being that AA will not gain short-range aircraft from UA if it goes under.

LAX-DL will be a big contender for space at LAX, they will especially go after the European routes that have been left by UA. AA will again also look to pick up some regional routes.

IAD-NW will make a push to acquire the assets at IAD, they have a significant gap on the eastern seaboard, and IAD could become a very profitable hub for NW, especially if they are able to do a better job in turning it into a regional hub than UA has. The European routes are also a big plus to acquiring the assets at IAD, as DTW isnt exactly the most ideal place to connect for most eastern cities.

ORD-AA will gain the most here by taking over UA's assets, when they do, they will be able to turn it into a fortress hub, like at DFW.

MIA-CO or NW will look to acquire a lot of the South American routes, although I would expect CO to come out on top.

America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!

RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 2:26 pm

I think a better question is "What will be without KROC"? I heard hes pulling the plug soon.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 8:19 pm

EverettWA said...
I can't really imagine any of your suggestions taking place... US taking over the ORD hub? With what? No planes, no money etc etc.

What planes? UA has some nice 319s & 320s that will be available - not to mention the many parked jets available at rock bottom lease rates.

What money? RSA's Bronner already said he would back the purchase of UAL assets if they would be good for US Airways. He specifically mentioned ORD & IAD as assets of interest.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Fri Feb 21, 2003 9:00 pm

I think it would make sense if NW takes over the Pacific network. A more-consolidated US carrier in that region would be in a better competitive position to face the growing Asian airlines serving the American market.
The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.

RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 1:27 am

I think DL is interested to expand at O'Hare... A very good addition to their hubs at ATL, CVG and SLC. Then Delta will be able to serve many Europe routes into KORD, wich have a lot of traffic. Maybe they will start services to Asia too?!? Thy can also be lucrative, because AA dosn't serve any Asian destinations from ORD (?)

I don't think that US or NW will take over the UAL hub at O'Hare.
In my opinnion Northwest is quite good positioned in the area with Detroit and Minneapolis, and US Airwas simply doesn't have the money to expand at ORD.
They have to stay in CLT and PIT.

Well, all in all - I think the battle is going to run between American and Delta.
Too bad that the Star Alliance will loose one of the most important North American hubs....  Sad

regards Florian
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 2:47 am

Florian - as others and I have tried to point out, U has the cash to aquire assets of UAL. This cash would come directly from RSA and have already been pledged by Dave Bronner.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 3:08 am

DL will move into ORD and vacate CVG so fast that the city fathers won't even have time to sputter, let alone complain.

And, CO will move back out to Denver - they already have the gate leases - and de-focus/hub CLE in a heartbeat. As in, once those gates/slots at DEN become available, CO will be up and running there in a week.

There is no way that NW would establish a THIRD Great Lakes hub. MEM was a big regional hub for Southern/Republic, and it does them just fine where it is.

DL may de-focus SLC if they get ORD, but watch CVG drop to secondary city status. CLE is too close to DTW to really become a hub in its own right.

Respectfully - the Divo
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 3:21 am

In response to relpy 17, I too think it in the realm of possibility that Delta would make a play for ORD. However, I think there could be room in the system for both ORD and CVG, since they serve different purposes as hubs. CVG is a good reliever for Atlanta for northeast traffic to the rest of the country; ORD is too far out of the way for this. We've seen that an airline can operate two hubs in close proximity: PIT and PHL, ORD and SLC, EWR and CLE. I also think that Delta has built critical mass at CVG, and should they inherit United's critical mass at ORD, there wouldn't really be cause to abandon what they've built for themselves at CVG. Any thoughts?
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 3:29 am

I expect Delta to make significant moves at O'Hare regardless of how United goes. Look for Song to run several routes from ORD just to place pressure on UA and AA. ORD-JFK, ORD-LAX, ORD-SFO, ORD-BOS, ORD-DFW, and ORD-FLL are the likely candidates.

I agree with others that CVG could ramp down rapidly if DL can get more space at O'Hare.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 3:48 am

I didn't mean to say that DL would evacuate CVG; just that they would move their significant hub operation (and international routes) to ORD.

I think that people who believe that someone would be interesting in IAD are wrong; I think that one will be left to die, just as UAL's South American routes out of MIA - between CO, AA and the Latin carriers, there is plenty of capacity to Latin America without UAL's routes.

I also believe that NWA will go after the northern pacific routes and SFO hub; I agree with those who have postulated that.

I think that the UK will still be reluctant to negotiate Bermuda II, and that DL has the best claim as being the corporate successor in interest to PA.

As far as UAL aircraft being absorbed in the market; I think that it's just going to be the 744s and 777s. The rest of the lien holders will be invited to just go hang.

Yesterday, there was a thread and a link to a Forbes piece (I think) that suggested CO would have made $2/share, NW broken even and AMR a $2/share loss if UAL's traffic had been split up between the remaining large carriers pro-rata to their size.

This suggests that very few of these operators need equipment to pick up the share of UAL traffic that will be re-directed in the [likely] event of a complete failure of UAL as a going enterprise.

As far as the questions as to smaller markets which are now primarily served by UAL, I think that it's all about the regional jets, baby. Those flexible carriers will be able to align themselves with someone else, fast, and you'll see Air Wisconsin go it as a stand alone brand, or aligned with someone else damned fast.
Respectfully - the Divo
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 4:18 am

"The A319s and A320s are rubbish?

Better than one big Boeing homogeny - which is what you'll get if its just AA."

I dont mind more AA 73s over UAL A319/A320s
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 6:14 am

I thought NW wouldn't be able to seek the north Pacific routes, wouldn't that violate the antitrust laws? I could see them restarting service to Australia, though.
At Eastern, we earn our wings every day!
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 6:33 am


I cannot believe the number of people that think Delta would move the hub out of CVG to ORD if they got it. For lack of better words...this would be the most idiotic thing Delta would ever do. Why would they give up a relatively DELAY FREE airport that is HUGELY SUCCESSFUL for an airport that would just be delay prone again? A cloud appears over Cincinnati...should things may back up an hour or whatever...but over O'Hare you are talking 3-4 hours.

Cincinnati is setup the way it is for a reason...very high frequency flights between many cities. You could not do this at O'Hare until the rebuilding is done in the next few years. While I agree there is room for some moderate domestic operations...a full scale hub would be completely stupid and anyone who would mention the idea to Leo himself would be laughed out of Fort Widget so fast they would cry.

Please some freaking common sense here and get out of your fantasy world. Speculation is great...but only when it has a bit of realism to it. Delta leaving CVG for ORD would just create Atlanta North...not what Delta needs.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 6:39 am

These analyses seem to leave out an obvious set of candidates for taking over gates (and possibly aircraft) in the hypothetical case of a United liquidation, that being the low-cost carriers. Certainly Southwest would want to take advantage of some of the market opportunities which would develop. It wouldn't surprise me to see them take over much of UA's terminal space at LAX and forther ramp up their operations there. Similarly, the end of the UA hub at SFO would also significantly reduce SFO's congestion... AirTran or jetBlue would both be in good shape to take advantage of the vacuum at ORD and/or IAD, while Frontier would certainly be the biggest beneficiary of UA's demise at DEN.

AA would clearly be the big winner at ORD, no matter what, just as DL did very well at ATL when EA failed. US didn't try to move its Southeast hub from CLT. While others might show some interest in building up at ORD, AA has the strength of being an incumbent in the market. It would take years for anyone else to match the size and scope of their operation at ORD, simply considering this from a logistical standpoint. AA also has plenty of parked aircraft and furloughed employees to add capacity, if necessary.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 7:55 am

Again DL is not going to abandon its almost brand new CVG terminal that has been ranked one of the top terminals in the U.S. to move to Where AA currently is at ORD. Because you know if UA went under, AA would get first bid at UA's ORD terminal

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 7:57 am

**"MIA-CO or NW will look to acquire a lot of the South American routes, although I would expect CO to come out on top"**

Wouldn't make a difference, with their partnership they are basically the same airline. A Northwest ticket will get them on a Continental flight. Perhaps they would split it.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 8:41 am

I too do not think that DL would turn ORD into a hub if UA vacated. DL does not like sharing hubs with other carriers. Would DL want to go head to head with AA in ORD? Think about DFW and you can probably guess that answer. No doubt, Airtran in the ATL fortress concerns DL greatly. As for CVG and SLC, DL is the sole hub carrier. CVG is very successful. It is relatively delay free compared to ORD, and a lot of passengers would rather fly through that airport than ORD any day.

Now, I would see DL increasing capacity to the other hub cities out of ORD in the event of a United shutdown. However, that would be the extent of it. LHR is what DL would focus on first if UA closed up shop. CVG is close to ORD. The intra-west coast market is very competitive with low cost carriers, so LAX and SFO would not be that attractive. SLC is close to DEN, and DL really would not need IAD, because they are already strong on the East Coast. Really, when you think about it, the route overlap between UA and DL is not really that much.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 8:55 am

I can see CO taking ORD over CLE. It's happened in the past with United.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:58 am

How about this.....

CO leaves CLE (They have problems with the city anyways) move into ORD. HP then moves into CLE like they used CMH for but build it with more mainline to the northeast, and southeast.

This is just a far far fetch on my part...

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 10:34 am

UAL Chapter7 = the death of O'Hare expansion?

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 10:47 am

There was terrific article in WSJ a few weeks back about CMH hub closing, and the analyst quoted in the article summed it all up: there are too many hubs, and the weaker ones are going to die an unceremonious death-- CMH certainly lead the list as the weakest one out there and now it's a goner. So IMHO, CLE is at about the top of the list of weak ones now, and CO would move in a NY minute to DEN or ORD or maybe even STL if they became available. IAD would be a likely target. Maybe one of USAirways 3 hubs, esp. PIT. So if United goes Chapter 7, or if there is some kind of consolidation, weak hubs will fade away, the strong ones will get stronger, but what's harder to predict is who will move into where. The one I wonder about is MEM-- NWA could use a hub in that part of the country, but I don't see a better one becoming available.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 11:09 am

United Airlines will always be #1 at O'Hare...United is not going out of business. O'Hare does not need American, Continental, Delta, Northwest or USAirways to take over its operations...United will stand....Furthermore, all of the airlines would be in better shape if we had new leadership in the White House..someone who understands Foreign Policy-Relations/Economics...One of the reasons why UAL did not get the loan is because they do not have a hub in Texas (hint)... but anyways (thaz another issue for another time) Chapter 11 will give United time to sort out financial discrepancies....
It sure won't happen overnight, but UNITED will emerge from Chapter 11. As a frequent flier, USAirways or Delta will get my business before American out of Chicago.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 11:10 am

The plans I have heard involve the following:

At Denver, Continental will take over the A40-A99 side of the concourse, including the existing UA mainline gates, lower-level UA Express hold rooms, and plans for expansion of the concourse. We will use our ERJ deliveries to dip our toe in the water of a number of new Western markets, as well as pull some MD-80s out of the desert to operate higher-capacity market. Our existing fleet cannot be stretched much further than it is, our utilization for our domestic fleet is pretty high.

As for Frontier, I hear they have big plans for Terminal B.

At Terminal C, American is expected to ramp up operations as well. The opposite side of the A concourse will hold some airlines supplanted by AA's expansion, in addition, Continental may at some point expand into the other section of the terminal that was built for their use!

At Chicago, Continental may add service to several large business markets, but no major expansion plans are expected there.

Continental will pick up the lease on the UA gates at Terminal 6 at Los Angeles, using these for some further expansion to key business markets, but not a whole lot on this end.

At San Francisco, don't look for much, same for IAD.

Continental will probably make the strongest push for LHR rights, and securing these may be Bethune's crowning achievement and he may retire on such a high note.

I've heard very little as far as aircraft, but a friend of mine mentioned that 737-300s might be an attractive options to cover the DEN expansion. 757/777s are out due to the PW engines, 747s will be long gone, perhaps the best widebody shot would be 767s, but many are older models and odds are that won't happen. And we know there will never be another Airbus in CO colors, at least as long as Gordon is here.

Of course, this is all speculative, but certainly not of my own imagination. This is sort of a compilation of many rumors I have heard over the last year or so from many (credible) sources. So take these for what they are, and if any of these rumors do come true, then how good am I going to look! Big grin
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 12:09 pm


UA's 18 767-200s are the oldest out there.

But UA's 37 767-300ERs have a very good average age... something like 6-7 years. These are the best planes for the market right now... 777s are too big for markets they used to be suited for before the meltdown of the global economy/foreign relations.
no wire hangers!
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 4:00 pm

Here's kind of a far fetched theory but as long as we are speculating and long shots are okay:

It's a given CO will go into DEN and compete with Frontier, probably at the expense of CLE.

I think AA will make a grab to lock up ORD has theirs, maybe some expanded coverage by DL but CVG is too valuble.

Now, here is where my theory starts to stray.

Where is AA going to get the goods to lock up ORD as thiers, STL of course. They will figure some way out of the deal in St. Louis and the city, county or whoever runs the airport down there is going to be left with a lot of empty gates, counters and less landing fees.

That means the powers that be at Lambert are going to have to make a sweetheart deal to someone to come in and at least try to make it work, and who do I think tha is going to be....

US Airways, hopefully they will figure out that it is possible to fly to the other side of the Mississippi River and that there are paying customers in the other 2/3s of the country.

Of course, to facilitate this say good night to PIT and they are going to have to pick up some of the 319s and 320s that will be dumped on the market.

Probably won't be as big at STL as TW was or AA currently is, but in time it will grow as US establishes itself in an area of the country it has been afraid of.

Overall, not all of the capacity is going to be picked up. Obviously there is too much capacity right now and UAs collapse would fix that problem but the name of the game is the most toys, the most destinations and the most seats so no one is going to seat around while the other guys grab what everyone wants.

We need a 20% reduction in capacity, but I think it will be closer to only a 5-10 % reduction when everybody gets done scrambling for what they want.

Of course, Pac Ops, LHR, IAD and such is a whole other topic  Smile
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sat Feb 22, 2003 4:39 pm

If and only if UA went out of business...

SFO and IAD would be very valuable markets and someone would quickly move in, especially SFO- it is a very important Pacific Gateway and I could see AA or DL moving in there, mainly AA because they don't have a hub west of Dallas.

Northwest I think would be more interested in IAD than SFO.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 12:00 am

How is ATL without Eastern? Doing just fine.

JFK without Pan Am? Ho Hum!

O'Hare will be fine!!
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 3:17 am

I could see either AirTran or JetBlue making something at ORD if UAL goes under. IAD will not be a potential expansion city for AirTran mainly because of their mini-hub at BWI; and JetBlue could make IAD a decent mini-hub. AirTran could leave MDW to ATA and Southwest, and become a dominate force at ORD. JetBlue would be better suited to ORD in terms of overall ops, because their A320s have to range to do flights to anywhere in the Lower 48 and the Carribean from ORD, while AirTran doesn't (at least until they get some longer-range a/c). SFO could become NW's base of operations for their Trans-Pacific flights. DEN would allow Frontier to grow some, but look to see Delta and Continental move in to establish increased ops, with Delta potentially moving the SLC hub to DEN (and perhaps having JetBlue hubbing at SLC as a result).
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 3:26 am

No one has mentioned WN beefing up STL. With their presence there already it seems logical.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 3:46 am

"I think it would make sense if NW takes over the Pacific network"

"I also believe NWA will go after the northern pacific routes"

Northwest already has the northern pacific route, in fact it initiated these routes right after WWII. It already has the largest Pacific network. Why would it be interested in United routes. It already flies them. The only restraint on Northwest is available slots at Narita.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 6:23 am

WN at STL has been relatively...well..."BLAH"...lately. They have slowly downsized markets into STL from as many as 6 flights a day to 2. Some new frequencies here and there...but overall I think you may find WN downsizing STL just a bit as more nonstop long haul flights take shape - eliminating the need to stop in STL as there once was.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 9:06 am

With the 737-700s for Southwest, there is no need for a stop in STL or MCI much longer
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 9:31 am

However, I would not be surprised to see WN add more STL service should AA abandon STL. One guess (in my eyes) for the downgrading of STL service by WN was that TW had been really ramping up STL during the end of their run, and reducing JFK to STL, Florida, trans-cons, and Europe. STL is still a large destination, and would need added capacity should AA bail out for ORD. WN is the most logical carrier to add flights, and I believe services like STL-ISP/PVD/MHT would be profitable for the carrier.

As for UA and ORD, several major airlines have gone Ch. 7 and the hubs are still being operated at respectable levels. Such as EA at ATL and PA at JFK, PA also had a prominent hub at MIA. Delta is now has the largest hub operation in the world at ATL, AA and DL both have large operations at JFK, and AA has a major hub in MIA, which is the gateway to its lucrative Latin America network. I think a situation with UAL might end up like this:

IAD: NW might go for this one, since it would be an east-coast hub. However, it might be more economical for them to slap their codes on CO's flights out of EWR (as they do), as well as DL's flights out of BOS, LGA, and JFK.
DEN: CO and US can coexist here, I believe. CO used to have a hub in DEN, they bailed when UA started to grow there. They still have a ton of gates sub-leased out, which is a plus for them. US also does not have the name recognition east of the Mississippi, as they only serve a handful of markets. I still think they could operate flights to the key cities from DEN, but a lot of regionals would have to be used to build up name awareness.
SFO: I think DL will get this one. NW already has a monopoly on the Pacific (pretty much), so they are already out. CO has already taken up DEN, which is their new hub (DEN will need mainline planes, CLE does not have many of these even if they are shut down). AA doesn't really have the money. US has chosen DEN as well (as well as a portion of ORD). This leaves DL to snap up the Pacific operation. They have a great balance sheet to help make it work as well. I think it will work (and quite possibly make themselves the world's largest airline in the process, with them being in the top 3 on the Atlantic, Latin and Pacific markets).
LAX: This airport reminds me of BOS and JFK a clear cut hub. You have large O&D markets in all three, but limited connection opportunities. LAX is not the premier place to connect to North Asia (that is better at SFO or EA / KSEA), USA - Washington">SEA), leaving it only for South Pacific. There are also limited domestic connection (SAN?) I think you will see DL and AA build up ops there, but both will be constricted in the fact that DL is building up SFO and AA is expanding ORD in an attempt to create Atlanta North (like DL did after EA went out).
ORD: It's no secret that AA will want to attempt and create Atlanta North. However, I think that US will be in there as well. Bronner has said that he will purchase UA's assets. ORD would allow US a tremendous opportunity for expansion, allowing for access to the Northwest, which is more difficult from PIT and PHL. I think that PIT could be closed down in order to move into ORD, as ORD would be a more valuable (ie more yielding) market than PIT.

As for LHR, no one should go for it. I honestly think that CO and DL will both get it, as well as BMI representing the UK for a balance of 3-3 (instead of the current 2-2). US would be able to use BMI, and NW would be able to use DL/CO.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 11:28 pm

If it comes to UA having to sell its routes to rival US airlines, how is the process undertaken? Could someone explain?

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Sun Feb 23, 2003 11:40 pm

Hkg82 - It depends which way they take it. They can try to wing a deal with US Airways (ala TWA/AA) to transfer some assets over and keep them with in the Star Alliance umbrella and then Chapter 7 it which would open the door to liquidation. The other way would be to just start asking for bids through the court and the highest bidder may get it - approved by the court & creditors of course.

Delt...the STL issue can go either way. WN will likely pick up a couple more cities they don't fly to already - but not to the scope to fill AA's shoes. We'll probably see US Airways move in to finally get their midwest hub - either with or without DEN. Feed in STL is provided by TSA & CHQ already, both US Airways Express carriers, so the switch over will not take long at all.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Mon Feb 24, 2003 12:25 am

People in Denver and in this region in general are unfamiliar with US, they have never had much of a presence here. CO would have an easier time expanding here because they had a major presence here for a very long time. Most people who have lived in Colorado for more than 10 years have flown on CO and are familiar with them. Therefore it is conceivable they could add substantial service here over a short period of time if the market conditions were desirable. It wouldn't be that easy for US.
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Mon Feb 24, 2003 12:35 am

Madcap purchasing of the pieces of United would cause disruption and chaos at the recipient carrier. They would be acquiring staff that have very different seniority positions and expectations about salaries and positions. Doesn't anyone remember the 1980s? Delta purchased Western. Continental purchased Texas International, Frontier, and PeopleExpress, etcetera, etcetera. It took more than a decade for most of these mergers to work themselves through, and in the process passengers endured chaotic service. I think it would be deadly for Continental, an airline which has turned itself around from two bouts of Chapter 11 to acquire a full hub of United with all its associated staff and assets. It would pretty much eliminate their endeavor to have a standardized fleet, with all the associated cost savings. If it is smart, it would buy a number of routes and sell off the aircraft. US Airways would probably benefit from buying a western hub, as it is so exposed to the Northeastern market. However, it has tried buying out west before (PSA in the 1980s) and got really burned against Southwest's competition. If Continental and others are smart they won't enter into a mad buying binge to ride out the current storm. Airlines that grow at steady, sustainable paces (i.e., Southwest) always survive better than airlines hoping to acquire market share quickly.

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RE: O'Hare Without United

Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:09 am

Wasn't the purpose of USAir buying PSA in the late 80s to create a presence with USAir on the west coast? Yet the only USAir flights you see coming into SFO or LAX are from PIT, PHL or CLT. I just don't think USAirways really can get itself going on the west coast.

My oppinion on the United hubs if and only if United were to go belly up.

IAD- Northwest would build an east coast hub there, I still think that DTW would be their primary Atlantic gateway though, but IAD would take over UA's altlantic routes (and more would be added at DTW too)

ORD- AA would move into United's terminal and several other airlines would increase their presence there, perhaps USAirways would create a minihub there or Jet Blue create a small hub (after all Jet Blue is growing and in need of the midwest hub

DEN- Continental moves back and DEN is still a two hub airport- Continental and Frontier

SFO- Delta takes over Pacific operations out of SFO and makes a west coast hub. Closes SLC and WN gets huge at SLC. Although SLC and SFO could both coexist as DL hubs, perhaps SLC would be more regional/express for DL.

LAX- United's small hub operation there gets sold to AA. American builds a Pacific operation out of LAX.

United's South American operation out of MIA gets sold to CO
H. Simpson
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RE: O'Hare Without United

Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:30 am

jetBlue will kicks in ORD  Big thumbs up

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