Just last week Independence Air said that its fourth quarter results would be ‘slightly better’ than the $82.7 million that it lost in the fourth quarter. I was skeptical, pointing out that the emphasis would no doubt be placed on ‘slightly’. Turns out that the results were worse: a fourth quarter loss of $86 million — and they’re still figuring out the accounting, so this may change.
Meanwhile, United lost $326 million in January. After two years of bankruptcy protection they still haven’t figured out a viable business model.
It seems the only ones making money on the airline are the consultants
- UAL’s professional payments alone totaled more than $13 million in January, including $1.4 million to consulting firm KPMG LLP; $2.4 million to Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the law firm that serves as United’s lead counsel; and nearly $5.7 million to management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Of course that isn’t quite true. JP Morgan Chase – which recently acquired BankOne – does quite well with its United Visa product.
It’s clear why United is being propped up by J. P. Morgan Chase, whose merger partner provided half a billion dollars in debtor-in-possession financing at the time of the airline’s chapter 11 financing and who now is letting United slide on terms of the financing — the continued survival of the carrier was necessary to maintain the bank’s profitable credit card business.
But for some inexplicable reason, Citibank, CIT Group and GE Capital are going along with similar terms and United has apparently received contingent offers for $2 billion to $2.5 billion in exit financing.