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Wed, May 26, 2004

UAL: More Furloughs Coming

Blame Skyrocketing Fuel Prices

It's the sort of proof no one was hoping for -- an indication that skyrocketing fuel prices are cutting into the commercial airline business. It's sort of like kicking a man when he's down (or just getting up).

United Airlines says it may have to lay off more employees because of increased fuel costs. The bankrupt carrier's chief operating officer, Pete McDonald, said "there's always a potential," when asked whether the higher prices for fuel would result in lay offs.

Speaking at an event for United's spinoff airline, Ted, McDonald compared the spike in fuel costs with the 9/11 attacks and last year's SARS epidemic.

"It's got the same effect on us," he said.

United's parent company, UAL Corp., filed documents in federal court Friday indicating the airline isn't currently hedging fuel prices. United predicts it will spend $750 million on fuel this year alone.

That echoes the warnings of analysts who say the industry's fledgling recovery could be all but erased by the fuel price spike.



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