United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek presented today at the Deutsche Bank Aviation and Transportation Conference. Some key nuggets of his presentation (a .pdf of his powerpoint is available on the United website):
- They’re paying just 2% more for jet fuel than they were in 2008, and they’re profitable. I wonder what the point of ‘fuel surcharges’ is then, they should have been able to build ‘jet fuel’ into their base costs. Of course it’s partly just a convenient quick and dirty way of adjusting prices across-the-board for a market rather than filing whole sets of new fares in each market.
- Reducing capacity. Of course the merger was going to shrink compared to United and Continental, no matter what sorts of protestations were offered before the merger closed.
- 90 million members of MileagePlus. I had heard that number and knew it was at least 70 or 80 million, but it’s interesting to see that confirmed.
- Dynamic pricing of ancillary revenue. That’s one of the reasons United says they wanted Shares, that they could customize this feature more easily compared to the non-owned Apollo system they were using previously. This means, for instance, the ability to vary pricing on upgrades at check-in.
- The new graphical interface for United’s computer reservation system rolling out October 1. So no more DOS screen commands that all of the legacy United agents had been asked to learn.
The graphic shows a buy up to first class being offered for $99 to the fictional elite passenger (and family?) on this reservation. That won’t make some observers happy…
The new graphical interface for SHARES is certainly something that folks have looked forward to and pinned a lot of hopes on, that it would help agents completely unfamiliar with the systems to do their jobs more easily. But at the same time any new systems rollout can lead to delays and glitches along the way. And with a new graphical interface, versus working directly at the command line, one wonders whether the processing speed of the computer terminals is up to the task of handling tasks quickly. We’ll know in a few weeks!