Cash Landing

Looking for Mr. Goodwin, United Airlines' three-million-dollar man.

We've already done much to cut costs. We've immediately reduced our flying schedule by 20 to 25 percent; shut down non-aircraft capital projects (including JFK Terminal 6 and Dulles Tier 2 and, not incidentally, all those planned expansions we were promising for Denver International Airport, which is still paying off that disastrous automated baggage system we forced on them); reduced supplier and discretionary spending, and -- most difficult of all -- decided to furlough 20,000 United employees. None of them me.

I wish I could report that work in this area is completed. It isn't. We are continuing to look at all aspects of our business -- from payroll and operations to examining the costs under our labor contracts. Which are up for renegotiation right now -- and those union leaders won't be driving a hard bargain after getting a load of this letter. Nothing is sacred or off-limits. Not even the general rules of business, as evidenced by same.

We also are working hard to generate revenue. The first step is to get people comfortable about flying again. We and the rest of the industry -- along with the U.S. President, other elected officials and government agencies -- are doing everything we can. When we aren't fleeing Washington, that is.


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To get passengers back on our planes, we also need to convince them that airline travel is safe. We are joining with the rest of the industry and the government to implement a number of measures, including reinforced cockpit doors and placing responsibility for security under federal jurisdiction. Lord knows, we've proven time and time again with our abysmal performance at DIA -- where we contracted with Argenbright Security to do the screening -- that we're incapable of being responsible for it ourselves. We're also issuing special fares, Mileage Plus offers and new ads that will feature United employees encouraging our customers to return to the skies and guilt-tripping every person in America into thinking it's their patriotic duty to stand in line for four hours just to be crammed into one of our flying tin cans.

However, much of our success in generating revenue will depend upon you. Once we bring customers back to our ticket counters, gate areas and airplane cabins, it will be up to you to make them comfortable and provide them with the service they've come to expect from United. And just listen to the cheers when they realize we're discontinuing those dismal meals on most flights!

I'm very proud of the work you're doing, in the wake of the September 11th tragedies. I've seen a renewed spirit at United. People are giving more of themselves to this company than I've ever witnessed in the 35 years I've been here. This is the true fabric of United. Let 'er rip!

Thank you for your loyalty, for your hard work and for your service on behalf of our customers in these, the most difficult of times. Let's keep it up. The sooner we get to break even, the sooner we'll remove the doubts about our future.

My future, of course, will be settled much sooner than that. Happy landings! -- J.G.

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