Could it be true?! Read through with an open mind...its been done in the past, and what reason would United have to be so opposed to it?
When Ted was still known as "Starfish", the talk that was coming out of both the company and the Union was that in order for United to become a much leaner airline, they would have to change many things, specifically the way the airline operated its domestic versus international flying. The main idea which United threw out was that United was to operate a separate airline on most
domestic flights. Pilots would be paid signifigantly less, their flying changed, and F/A's would be paid slightly above minimum wage, would only have 20 days off (including sick and vacation), and would also fly longer and harder days. They would be relegated to this flying until a position became available at "Mainline," in which case they would be eligible to move to Mainline and its added benefits of better pay, vacation, scheduling, etc.
Well...flight attendants didn't really care for that and would have almost unanimously voted it down had it come to a vote.
Now we see United's new subsidiary, Ted, spring up in certain markets through United's hubs offering low(er) fares to leisure destinations. For now, they crew with the same flight attendants as Mainline, but operate under a completely different type of flying--one with very quick turns, no first class, expanded Economy Plus, and buy on board, just to name a few.
With the ATSB announcement that they are denying United's appeal for the $1.1 bn loan, United obviously needs to further reduce costs, and what better way to further reduce them with than by expanding cheaper-to-operate Ted. United's back is now against the wall, and as the company puts it, all measures must be investigated in order to survive. If United were to make the quick and easy "alterations" to Ted as they had originally wished to make from the start with the separate "Domestic United" (lower pay, etc.), and spin it as "necessary to survive," no one F/A or pilot wise would really argue. The question to pose to those F/A's and pilots is: "lower-pay Ted, or no job at all?" in which case, United would ultimately get what it had wished to acheive from the start: a low cost carrier
subsidiary and not a low cost division
Ted would take over United's current domestic route structure, and would fly a mixture of A320/A319 aircraft (possibly even A321). Not a stretch of the imagination by any means, as we have already seen Ted accomplish this feat quite easily and quickly.
International flying would be kept United Mainline, as well as almost all trans-con and hub to hub flying. The majority of these rare Mainline domestic flights would be operated by widebody aircraft not only operating positioning flights between international gateways, but also replacing say, two or even three narrowbody trans-con flights. A greatly reduced 757 fleet would cover thinner trans-con markets as well as Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Essentially, United Mainline would consist of 777-200, 767-300, 757-200, and 747-400 aircraft.
Just as history has shown us with Singapore Airlines and Boeing, it is entirely possible for an aircraft manufacturer to arrange good terms to switch out aircraft. Airbus is notorious for offering hard-to-resist deals on new frames, and I'm certain that they would have no problem doing the same with trade-ins from United. Even aircraft which United owns outright could be sold and used against the payments for new A321/A320/A319 Ted aircraft.
The real kicker to this whole deal is that Jane Allen, United's Senior Vice President of Onboard, was quoted as saying that United has seriously been considering, "an exchange of money for an ownership stake in the company" by many companies and lending agencies versus actual repayment of the loans. She did not, however, specify if these companies or agencies were US or foreign-based.
Many on here have been talking about what United would have to sell if it looked like they were to go further into trouble, yet despite all of the rumors of Narita and Heathrow sell-offs, no one has bothered to look at one thing which is right underneath their noses: United domestic. The infrastructure is already there at the many airports throughout the country, and if United were to change directions with Ted, it would potentially be the most viable option and viable operation which to sell. United would basically rid itself of the trouble which domestic fare wars, LCC's, etc., have caused over the years (and will continue to cause), and could instead turn its focus to the most profitable trans-con and international routes. The reduction in operating costs alone would be more than enough to launch United (albeit a much, much tinier version) out of Chapter 11 and into profitability. As stated before, the switchover wouldn't be hard to do as already proven by Ted's launch.
Ted would be able to continue operating profitably on routes and under market conditions for which it was originally designed: the new LCC market of the United States, and United would be able to operate profitably on routes and under the market conditions for which it is optimally designed.
So, that, in a nutshell, is the most viable option I see United taking. It really does seem to click with the original plan they had desired to set in motion from the start of the bankruptcy proceedings. Ted is expanded, sold off, United emerges much smaller and more profitable, able to concentrate on its core markets.
Maybe Tilton is smarter and sneakier than we originally presumed...
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