Monday, December 17, 2012

Jeff Smisek Rises

Good news for United CEO Jeff Smisek, he can soon add the title of Chairman to is CV as he was appointed to the position effective December 31st in a symbol that the merger between Continental and United is nearing completion.

In another bit of good news the pilot's unions for both Continental and United agreed to the joint labor agreement cutting down one of the big Damoclean swords hanging over the head of the super-airline. With that out of the way the union can get down to the brass tacks of hammering out the seniority tables as United truly becomes one airline.  Perhaps this even means that we won't be hearing any more "proud TRUE United crew" or "Proud Continental crew" flight announcements.

On the competitor front the news is even better. American remains a disaster as they struggle to come out of bankruptcy and decide whether or not to merge with the mess that is US Airways forming a "super airline" of aging planes and inside economy seating humor while Southwest airlines is starting to realize just how faulty their no baggage fees policy truly is (my guess is they are forced to abandon this going forward due to market and price pressure, you notice that they're not mentioning it in their new commercials).  Already going the way of the Dodo are Southwest's "no change fees" policies which were the focus of a huge advertisement push just a couple of years ago.

Inside the airports things seem to be moving along for United as well.  Their proposed airport lounge re-design has been called "pretty dandy" by the travel blogging site Gadling which must make His Jeffness' hair stand on end with joy.

Things are going so well for Señor Jefe that he can be excused for blowing off the recent maintenance issues with the 787.  So far, the fallout from that has been mainly limited to some spleen-venting from a few over-entitled travel bloggers and, as we all know, that type of damage is easily overlooked.  United is still offering refunds to people who paid the premium to fly the new super plane, and Boeing assures us that things will get worked out eventually.

As it stands United is still living off the vapors of the positive vibe of the inaugural flight where the scored a double coup convincing several travel bloggers that his upgrade didn't clear.  By all accounts, the 787 is an awesome plane, when it actually gets off the ground, and Smisek has invested heavily in this plane, (Some suggest to the expense of other, more mundane, areas of operations) so that its success, or lack thereof, could be the determining factor as to whether or not the company is successful going forward.

For now, however, the stock is enjoying some upward movement and the analysts seem happy that the labor issue is starting to sort itself out.  After months of public relations and operations messes United must be happy to finally see things on the upswing.

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