Keeping United Airborne
Byline: The Register-Guard
United Airlines' bankruptcy is the seventh largest in the nation's history, but its significance ranks higher. United isn't some company like Adelphia or WorldCom that no one had ever heard of five years ago, pumped up by gas from the high-tech bubble. It's a venerable airline, founded in 1929, and it provides an essential service - including a majority of Eugene's air links.
United's troubles have been widely recounted: It's losing $20 million a day, its labor costs are high, it can't compete with discount airlines on many high-volume routes. These are daunting problems, but despite its bankruptcy, United will continue flying and will attempt to return to solvency. Americans should wish it well - United's failure would bring the demise of a particular kind of airline and a particular kind of company.
United Airlines built a vast air network, and in 1984 became the first airline to serve all 50 states - including many destinations served by no other national carrier. This achievement came six years after airline deregulation opened the door to cost-cutting competition. Ever since then, cities like Eugene have struggled to maintain adequate air service and airlines like United have lurched from one crisis to the next. …