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United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:06 am

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/4580090/detail.html

United will still have to make payments on the system for the next 20-25 years? One million bucks for monthly maintenance? OUCH!

[Edited 2005-06-07 21:14:42]
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dtwclipper
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 5:41 am

Denver International Airport Spokesman Chuck Cannon said Tuesday that even if United scraps the system, the airline will still be on the hook for 20 to 25 years of payments to the airport the system. It pays $60 million a year to lease the system now, according to Green.

The numbers here don't make make sense to me.

The system costs 193 million, yet they pay 60 million a year to lease it?

Is he perhaps stating the total amount to the airport to lease its space?
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deltaffindfw
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:35 am

Here is a better article. It shows the real cost:

"The $250 million automated system was intended to be a cutting-edge model but turned into a major problem for DIA, one of United's hubs. The city, which owns the airport, spent an additional $100 million for construction and $341 million in interest to try to get it to work."

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/050607/united_baggage.html?.v=2
 
EnviroTO
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:42 am

Every article I read has some "airline analyst" quoted from some company I don't recognize as an aviation industry leader. Where do they get these people?
 
trident2e
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:03 am

I thought Chapter 11 would have released United from any obligation to pay for the next 20 years. Is this not the case?
 
baw716
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:06 am

EnviroTO
Good question....EVERYBODY is an airline analyst.

Whether they are any good or not is another question. This is the problem. Its like real estate. Anybody can go out and get a license to sell real estate and even to broker it. The problem is the same, who is good and who isn't?

The only way to know is to go to the big stock trading houses that trade airline stocks. Those are the companies that you need to talk to in terms of looking for an analyst, and even then, they are going to look at the financials of a company. To that extent, yes, they will look at the business decision of a company to determine if that will affect its stock price, but there are few people who are any good that will offer any opinion on an decision beyond that.

Now, I am a little different. I am a management consultant, specializing in airline management. I have a masters in business admin, plus some specialization certificates from IATA. I don't have the coveted "Masters in Aviation Management", which to me is the ONLY degree that makes any one an expert in aviation management. If anyone on this forum has that degree from Concordia in Montreal, then I bow to you. And everyone else should as well, because THAT degree is the ultimate airline management degree. You have that and you can speak to anything.

So until I have that, I am a second class citizen, just like everyone else.
 Smile

So are those buggers.

Now about UA and the DIA baggage system. Unfortunately, that business has been going on ever since DIA opened. DIA touted this new baggage system that they purchased from Germany and it was suppose to be the "be all and end all" and it was to revolutionize the way bags were handled and take DIA into the 21st century and handle more bags and more aircraft than any other aircraft in the country.

Short answer: NOPE

Not only did it fail, it failed disastrously. In its first few days of operation, it ate more bags than it lost, it lost more bags than it delivered. In other words, it was a f....ing disaster. So, United from just about day one, had to operate the old fashioned way. They were able to dispatch bags from the central terminal to the UA terminal, where they had to redispatch them to the gate manually. In the other direction, to the bag well, they had to truck them across the tarmac.

Unfortunately for United, they were the major lease holder at DIA. They spent a bucket full (millions in the bucket) to get the thing fixed to the point that it could deliver bags in the manner I just discussed. For the longest time, they just trucked the bags back and forth, because UA was paying for too many destroyed bags...I mean obliterated bags.

As I understand it, UA signed like a 25 year lease at DIA, as part of that lease, they are paying for that piece of crap baggage system. If United is abandoning the baggage system altogether, then it would seem to me to be saying that their fix isn't working anymore and they are still paying too much in bag claims at DEN and they are going to have to go back to the old way of doing things....trucking the bags.

If this is true: Then if you are checking your bags to arrive at DIA, it may be upwards of an hour before your bag hits the belt, and even more in the winter. They have to unload, then truck the bags across the tarmac to the central terminal and unload the cans, or heaven forbid, the bags were bulk loaded.
Its going to be a lot of fun at DIA for awhile. If I were you, I'd start FedExing my bags home before I flew home to Denver.

baw716
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:19 am

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):
new baggage system that they purchased from Germany

Actually, if you read the article, the system was purhcased from BAE Automated Systems in TX and DIA's not the only airport that uses that system. FRA and MUC both use it too. Anybody know if they have similar problems?
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
ssides
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:20 am

Can someone explain to me how DEN's baggage system was intended to work? Why was it supposed to be "revolutionary?"

All this makes me even more upset about the whole disaster that is DEN. It's impossible for me to look at that airport without visualizing the taxpayer dollars that went down the s**tter with that one.
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:38 pm

In my short 3 month stint in Baggage service I saw several bags from DEN that were eaten by the system.

One bags contents came in two plastic bags, the only part recognizable as a bag was the front pocket of the bag that was torn clean away from the main bag which was destroyed.

The Baggage system was to start in the small low houses next to the gates. These contained the "lizard tounges" which would extend to the airplane pit dors eliminating the need for belt loaders. Bags would simply be loaded off, into the system which would route the bags by barcode laser readers through the airport and deposit them at the appropriate flight's gate were they would then go back onto a lizard tounge to the waiting airplane. Bags going to the terminal would catcha ride in a rollercoaster like bucket which would wisk it away to the main terminal. Very little human handling would be needed and software would route the bags with fewer problems.

Then DIA opened. The "lizard tounges" to my knowlege were so delayed that they were neve completed. The delay to the system was so long that only UA got the privlege of using the system to transport the bags to the main terminal, which promtly ate the bags becasue they would fall out of the high speed buckets and lay ont he rails for the next car to chew into bits.

Its unfair in my opinion that UA is on the hook for decades of payments when DIA clearly bought a lemon. If we bought a car that had as many problems we would not be held liable for making payments on it, why does the City think its resonable for UA to pay for this lemon of a baggage system.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
F9Widebody
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:47 pm

Quoting UALPHLCS (Reply 8):
The Baggage system was to start in the small low houses next to the gates.

I've always wondered what those are for.

Quoting UALPHLCS (Reply 8):
Then DIA opened. The "lizard tounges" to my knowlege were so delayed that they were neve completed.

I thing I've only ever seen those little houses next to the like the 4 gates surrounding the center of Concourse B.

Regards
YES URLS in signature!!!
 
FriendlySkies
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:50 pm

Isn't this really old news? I could have sworn reading about this almost a year ago...
 
baw716
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:36 pm

Garnetpalmetto
Sorry, I misspoke. I should have said the same system used in Germany, not purchased from Germany. It is used at FRA and MUC and to the best of my knowledge they do not have major problems at those airports.

It was just when they build it at DIA, they could never get it to work from day 1. The system as I understand it is VERY complicated, so if you get something very minor wrong in the construction, it would take years to find the problem or possibly never, which may be the case.

Again, my apologies for the error in fact.
baw716
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998
 
JC5280
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:43 pm

The bags are already moved manually throughout 2/3rds of the system. This would mostly impact bags going from the Terminal to the Concourse B. That is where the system is used currently. Bags transferring between planes, and bags going from your plane to the baggage claims are already driven manually and have been for some time. They use the service roads underneath the tarmac.

The lease costs are high because UA pays DIA for every square foot that the baggage system occupies. Just like office space. Even if the tracks are elevated above the service roads, which is true in most cases. The majority of the track is above your head on miles and miles of tracks.
 
airfrnt
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Wed Jun 08, 2005 11:11 pm

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):
Now about UA and the DIA baggage system. Unfortunately, that business has been going on ever since DIA opened. DIA touted this new baggage system that they purchased from Germany and it was suppose to be the "be all and end all" and it was to revolutionize the way bags were handled and take DIA into the 21st century and handle more bags and more aircraft than any other aircraft in the country.

A quick correction. DIA did not ask for the baggage system. United forced it down their throat as part of the requirement for DIA for them to keep their hub there. CO also did not want the baggage system.

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):
Unfortunately for United, they were the major lease holder at DIA. They spent a bucket full (millions in the bucket) to get the thing fixed to the point that it could deliver bags in the manner I just discussed. For the longest time, they just trucked the bags back and forth, because UA was paying for too many destroyed bags...I mean obliterated bags.

At the time of the airport's construction, UA was not the major lease holder. CO and UA were both hubbed there, but CO was actually the launch partner for the Airport. Hence they got A concourse and the really nice bridge.

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):

As I understand it, UA signed like a 25 year lease at DIA, as part of that lease, they are paying for that piece of crap baggage system. If United is abandoning the baggage system altogether, then it would seem to me to be saying that their fix isn't working anymore and they are still paying too much in bag claims at DEN and they are going to have to go back to the old way of doing things....trucking the bags.

While UA is paying for the "crap baggage system" that they themselves picked, they are also paying penalties to the airport for the interest accrued on the bonds while the Airport was ready for flight, but because of UA's baggage system, unable to actually cut over from Stapleton. The City put in new tunnels and systems to allow all other carriers to use the same system everyone else in the US uses.

There was, not suprisingly a major lawsuit from Denver over all of this.

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):


If this is true: Then if you are checking your bags to arrive at DIA, it may be upwards of an hour before your bag hits the belt, and even more in the winter. They have to unload, then truck the bags across the tarmac to the central terminal and unload the cans, or heaven forbid, the bags were bulk loaded.
Its going to be a lot of fun at DIA for awhile. If I were you, I'd start FedExing my bags home before I flew home to Denver.

Huh? I have flown over 90 flights (closing in on 100 in the next month) on UA out of DEN. I have never had my bags take a hour to get from B concourse to A. I once had to wait a hour, but that was for a DL Flight out of concourse C.
Compare this to ORD and ATL (the other two airports that I tend to spend a lot of time in) and how long the bags take there.

Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Reply 6):
Actually, if you read the article, the system was purhcased from BAE Automated Systems in TX and DIA's not the only airport that uses that system. FRA and MUC both use it too. Anybody know if they have similar problems?

FRA was not using it before DIA put it into place. MUC did use it, and it was also a complete disaster there delaying airport opening considerably. That was despite the fact that they had 5x more time to do test integration runs then BAE did.

It's also worth noting that DEN that according to a Denver Rocky Mountain news article a year or two back, DEN had the best ratings for lost bags (ie, lost the fewest) of any of the top ten airports. The replacement system they put into place helped a lot.
 
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ramprat74
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:20 am

I worked at DIA on opening day. The Lizard tounges were meant for transfers and inbound city bags only. You still needed a belt loader for the flight. The lizard tounge extended out to the belt loader. There was a switch to go from transfer mode to city mode. The system never had enough carts to operate right. The belt would stop for five minutes or more at a time. I worked at DIA from opening day to July 98. I think we used the lizard tounges a total of three days.

The lizard toungue houses made great bunker breakrooms for us ramprats. We had TV's, radio's, heaters, nice comfy chairs. Then they had to board all of them up. Damn.
 
DAYflyer
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:31 am

Quoting UALPHLCS (Reply 8):
Its unfair in my opinion that UA is on the hook for decades of payments when DIA clearly bought a lemon. If we bought a car that had as many problems we would not be held liable for making payments on it, why does the City think its resonable for UA to pay for this lemon of a baggage system.

I concur. UAL should sue the crap out of DIA for this. DIA should be paying UAL for the destroyed bags and $ lost, not the other way around.

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 13):
MUC did use it, and it was also a complete disaster there delaying airport opening considerably

Hum, sounds like somebody knew it was a lemon before day 1 at DIA to me. See suggestion 1 above.

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 13):
While UA is paying for the "crap baggage system" that they themselves picked

Well, I guess that puts the kabosh on comment 1 & 2 above. If UAL picked it themselves, then they are stuck. I hope whoever picked this system lost his/her job over it.
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:31 am

I remember seeing a news report shortly after the airport opened about this baggage system. It showed those roller coaster like cars zooming around on rails mounted on the ceiling. It also showed articles of clothing on the ground underneath the railway track. It's still hard for me to imagine how such a system could tear bags apart. Would it do this only to soft sided luggage? Or was hard sided luggage torn up too?
What did UA do after someone's bag was destroyed? Give it to the pax in a plastic bag and say "Sorry about that..."?
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rsmith6621a
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:40 am

Attention all Ye UAL employees....

You are going to pay with your wages and jobs for this mess.

Since UAL has written the BK law to suit themselves I wonder if they take this issue to Judge Wedofs courtroom and have it added in.

I smell another years worth of extensions in the air.
Did You Ever Think Freedom Could Be this Bad
 
airfrnt
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:04 am

Quoting DAYflyer (Reply 15):
I concur. UAL should sue the crap out of DIA for this. DIA should be paying UAL for the destroyed bags and $ lost, not the other way around.

Actually, the other way around. DEN took UA to court and sued the "crap" out of them on this issue. It gave Denver a black eye in the media, and really was the only problem with a otherwise magnificent airport.

Quoting Rsmith6621a (Reply 17):
Since UAL has written the BK law to suit themselves I wonder if they take this issue to Judge Wedofs courtroom and have it added in.

They no longer have the option. They explicitly "assumed" the lease earlier in the BK proccess for their gates at DEN. Part of that assumption was the baggage system. They may try and weasel out of that now, but they are already under court orders because of the legal mess after the airport opened.
 
SHUPirate1
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:09 am

It says in that article that San Francisco International Airport also has that same baggage system. Is this true, or wishful thinking for an article that is obviously anti-United?
Burma's constitutional referendum options: A. Yes, B. Go to Insein Prison!
 
baw716
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:37 am

AirFrnt
First, to reply to some of your comments:

A quick correction. DIA did not ask for the baggage system. United forced it down their throat as part of the requirement for DIA for them to keep their hub there. CO also did not want the baggage system.

That does not square with my understanding of how the baggage system got put in at DIA.

"Quoting Baw716 (Reply 5):


If this is true: Then if you are checking your bags to arrive at DIA, it may be upwards of an hour before your bag hits the belt, and even more in the winter. They have to unload, then truck the bags across the tarmac to the central terminal and unload the cans, or heaven forbid, the bags were bulk loaded.
Its going to be a lot of fun at DIA for awhile. If I were you, I'd start FedExing my bags home before I flew home to Denver.

Huh? I have flown over 90 flights (closing in on 100 in the next month) on UA out of DEN. I have never had my bags take a hour to get from B concourse to A. I once had to wait a hour, but that was for a DL Flight out of concourse C.

Compare this to ORD and ATL (the other two airports that I tend to spend a lot of time in) and how long the bags take there.
"

Forgive me, but I don't think you read my post completely. I said that if UA had to truck baggage across the tarmac from the aircraft to the baggage claim facility at DIA, that it would take upwards of an hour or more for passengers to receive their bags at the carousel. I stand behind that assessment. This is not because the baggage handlers at UA are slow, it is just because if the bags have to be trucked, especially bulk loaded across a tarmac, The ramp guys have to be concerned about crossing aircraft traffic. A small jet, say a 737 has enough wake energy that if a baggage truck passes too close behind it, that it would blow the cart over without too great a problem. It would be the worse in snow or fog.

These are just some of the factors I noted in my original post that I just don't think you caught. Clearly I think you may have an anti-UA bias working against you. Be that as it may, lets hope that I am really wrong about that last point and that nobody gets killed on the ramp. That would be the worst case scenario indeed and evidence that the whole baggage system should just be completely scrapped and started again from scratch.

baw716.
David L. Lamb, fmr Area Mgr Alitalia SFO 1998-2002, fmr Regional Analyst SFO-UAL 1992-1998
 
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ramprat74
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:52 am

UA has been using tug and cart for city bags since day one at DIA. The rampers use two tunnels from concourse B to the main terminal. They don't use VSR's. The tunnels go out pass concourse C. All airlines use these tunnels.
 
BWI757
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:57 am

I don't see any mention of BAE being held responsible for anything, only UA. I would think that UA would go after them for installing a system that does not work.

BWI757
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baylorairbear
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 2:09 am

BWI757, you beat me! How does BAE not have any liability/responsibility here. Sounds like they need an ass whipping.

BaylorAirBear
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BlueF9A320
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 2:23 am

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 20):
Forgive me, but I don't think you read my post completely. I said that if UA had to truck baggage across the tarmac from the aircraft to the baggage claim facility at DIA, that it would take upwards of an hour or more for passengers to receive their bags at the carousel. I stand behind that assessment. This is not because the baggage handlers at UA are slow, it is just because if the bags have to be trucked, especially bulk loaded across a tarmac, The ramp guys have to be concerned about crossing aircraft traffic. A small jet, say a 737 has enough wake energy that if a baggage truck passes too close behind it, that it would blow the cart over without too great a problem. It would be the worse in snow or fog.

Why would UA truck the bags across the tarmac when DEN has perfectly good tunnels that every other airline seems to use to transport baggage without any problems?

v/r

BlueF9A320
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flashmeister
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:16 am

I fly through DEN all the time and I, for one, have never seen these trains of bag carts on the tarmac. They use underground tunnels between concourses.

If UAL spec'ed it, UAL's on the hook. It's that simple. They can turn it around to BAE if they want to.
 
galapagapop
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:18 am

About time! Now only if they'd fix security lines, DIA may actually be worth flying into.
 
airfrnt
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:18 am

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 20):
That does not square with my understanding of how the baggage system got put in at DIA.

Allow me to correct your understanding. From today's Denver Post Print Edition (I have it sitting in front of me)

Quote:

United, which originally requested the sytem, still pays $40 million a year to Denver for automated baggage system space and equipment which transports only baggage leaving denver.

a) United put the system in and
b) Denver already uses baggage carts to truck the baggage in.

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 20):
Forgive me, but I don't think you read my post completely. I said that if UA had to truck baggage across the tarmac from the aircraft to the baggage claim facility at DIA,

See point B above.

Quoting Baw716 (Reply 20):
These are just some of the factors I noted in my original post that I just don't think you caught. Clearly I think you may have an anti-UA bias working against you. Be that as it may, lets hope that I am really wrong about that last point and that nobody gets killed on the ramp. That would be the worst case scenario indeed and evidence that the whole baggage system should just be completely scrapped and started again from scratch.

You are accusing me of Anti-United bias? You are all but accusing Denver of man-slaughter by forcing this system on a innocent UA. On top of that, your point is simply wrong. Denver already carts the baggage in, as it has since day one of the airport opening.

At peak I flew about 30 flights a year on UA, and about 20 on F9. I think UA has some serious issues, but I fly UA when I can't get a F9 flight out of denver. I may not like UA all the time, but DEN is easily their best run hub, and their safety record is good.

[Edited 2005-06-08 20:21:03]
 
airfrnt
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:32 am

Quoting BWI757 (Reply 22):
I don't see any mention of BAE being held responsible for anything, only UA. I would think that UA would go after them for installing a system that does not work.



Quoting BaylorAirBear (Reply 23):
BWI757, you beat me! How does BAE not have any liability/responsibility here. Sounds like they need an ass whipping.

BAE and United settled their lawsuit out of court in 1997.
 
Noah008
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:38 am

its obivous who the real culprit is, the aliens that inhabit the airport!!! ahahah jk
 
baylorairbear
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:13 pm

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 28):
BAE and United settled their lawsuit out of court in 1997.

Thanks AirFrnt. A search didn't help me, so if you know, could you post the terms of the settlement in brief or a link?

Thanks
BaylorAirBear
I'm just skipping stones...
 
musapapaya
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RE: United To Abandon DIA's $193M Baggage System

Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:26 pm

Hi guys,

Do you know which baggage handling worldwide is the most reliable system? Who built those systems then?

Thanks.

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