United Airlines, Chicago, must determine if it can sustain the burden of existing pension plan contributions and still attract exit financing needed to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, said Rich Nelson, spokesman. He said United is re-examining every aspect of its business, noting that no decisions have been made regarding the pension funds. "Nothing has been or will be immune from this re-examination, which occurs in an intensely competitive pricing and revenue environment with record fuel prices," Mr. Nelson said late Monday.
Earlier in the day, the head of United's pilots union vowed to use everything at the union's disposal to prevent the carrier from terminating the pilots' pension plan. The airline's 9,000 pilots "have already made huge concessions to provide United with over $6 billion in financial relief over the next five years," Mark Bathurst, chairman of the United Pilots Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots' Association, said in a statement.
Mr. Nelson said the airline has recently shared with its board, which includes union representation, "analysis and benchmarking" that details additional cost reductions and revenue enhancements that would serve as the basis of a revised business plan. He said United is "pleased that (the union) understands that there are opportunities for further improvement — opportunities that we are already focused on."