United Airlines is patting itself on the back for how it has positioned itself to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. It has also made clear that the operational difficulties American Airlines is currently experiencing will not happen at United. While hubris is a dangerous inclination, United’s superior planning and strategic vision are unquestionably paying off as travelers once again take to the skies.
United Airlines Claims 2021 Will Not Be A Summer Of Discontent
In a memo to employees from Chief Operating Officer Jon Roitman, reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly, United Airlines contrasts itself to American Airlines, noting that it will not fall the trap American Airlines finds itself in, an operational meltdown due to inadequate pilot staffing that has led to flight cancellations surpassing more than 100 per day:
Over the last several days, you’ve likely seen media reports that detail the operational challenges faced by some of our competitors and the disruptive schedule changes they’ve implemented to compensate for them.
Many of you have asked what United is doing to manage those same challenges.
The truth is that our situation is different primarily because we have been planning for this moment for more than a year – and that planning has given us a big advantage in running our business and caring for our customers.
United says it has:
- Outperformed competitors at matching schedule to demand
- Improved communication between network planning teams and operating groups
- Kept pilots ready to fly through an agreement last summer to avoid furloughs and keep pilots current – United says it has a “deep reservoir of pilot talent…that we can tap to fly our schedule”
- Established an integrated working group across all departments to plan how United could execute against a sudden surge in travel demand, with an emphasis on resource readiness and aircraft availability
- Used labor concessions and the Payroll Support Program (PSP) to “maximize flexibility” and prepare for a sudden recovery.
United Airlines actually deserves to take a victory lap here. More so than another airline, it has been nimble and willing to quickly adjust schedules during the pandemic in order to meet present demand. Its agreement with pilots last summer to keep them fully employed and trained was pivotal in avoiding the sorts of cancellations we see on American Airlines today.
As this pandemic has taught us, much can change in a very short time. In that sense, any victory lap remains premature. But it is hard to fault United for congratulating itself and thanking its employees for so effectively weathering the storm. The future looks bright for the U.S. aviation industry (even American Airlines), but particularly so for United.