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United: Flight plan to trouble
World's No. 2 airline has had a series of problems in recent years that led to a bankruptcy.
December 9, 2002: 7:37 AM EST

Dec. 28, 1993 - Board of directors approve purchase of company by its employees. Pilots and machinists grant concessions, forego wage increases over next eight years, to take stake in company, win seats on board of directors.

March 25, 1999 - Board, under pressure from unions, select James Goodwin as new CEO.

May 24, 2000 - United parent UAL Corp. announces $4.3 billion cash bid for US Airways Group, despite concerns from its unions and consumer groups who fear it will drive up fares. Stock drops. Stock falls 12 percent to $53.19, a level it has not seen since July 2000.

Aug. 26, 2000 - After a series of job actions that led to flight cancellations and loss of business customers, United announces a lucrative new contract with the Air Line Pilots Association that gives its members immediate wage increases of up to 27 percent. Contract makes carrier highest-cost airline in industry.

Sept. 29, 2000 - UAL warns it will lose money in the third and fourth quarters, starting a string of losses it has not been able to end.

Nov. 17, 2000 - United goes to court, charging mechanics are improperly grounding aircraft to gain leverage at negotiating table.

June 18, 2001 - UAL announced $3.75 billion order for 135 business jets as it tries to move into new sector of air travel industry. Effort is eventually abandoned due to financial problems.

July 27, 2001 - Federal regulators block UAL purchase of US Airways, citing anti-trust concerns.

Sept. 11, 2001 - Two United jets are hijacked as part of terrorist attack that brings about a halt of all U.S. commercial flights for several days, followed by a sharp decrease in demand for air travel and increased costs for airlines.

Sept. 19, 2001 - United announces it will cut 20,000 jobs and its schedule of flights in wake of attack.

Sept. 27, 2001. United and other airlines receive the first payment of nearly $5 billion in federal assistance granted to the nation's airlines by Congress in the wake of the terrorist attack. Direct assistance to United would eventually total about $774 million.

Oct. 28, 2001 - James Goodwin is forced to resign as CEO after angering unions by saying that the future of the airline was in doubt without additional cut in labor costs. Board member Jack Creighton is named CEO with the support of the unions.

Feb. 13, 2002 - Mechanics represented by the International Association of Machinists reject a settlement proposed by federal mediators that would grant them 37 percent pay increases because they don't like the call for a new round of concession talks.

March 6, 2002 - Mechanics approve a tentative contract agreement almost identical to the one they rejected three weeks earlier, averting a possible strike.

June 24, 2002 - United files application for $1.8 billion infederal loan guarantees with the Air Transportation Stabilization Board (ATSB), the three-member panel set up to review such requests.

Aug. 14, 2002 - United management admits they will probably be forced to file for bankruptcy court protections without loan guarantees because they won't have the funds needed to make debt payments by the end of the year without the help.

Sept. 2, 2002 - United names another CEO, turning to oil industry executive Glenn Tilton after the unions sour on Creighton.

Nov. 28, 2002 - The machinists union announces that while its members who work as baggage handlers, customer service reps and most other members employed as ground workers have approved a concession contract, the unit of the union that represents mechanicsvoted against the 7 percent wage designed to win approval of loan guarantees from the ATSB.

Dec. 2, 2002 - The machinists union agrees to ask mechanics to again vote on the virtually the same contract the rejected the previous week, but United announced it has missed nearly $1 billion in scheduled debt payments. It said it still hopes to make payments within the grace period if it wins loan guarantees.

Dec. 4, 2002 - On the eve of the scheduled machinist vote, the ATSB rejects United's application for loan guarantees. The panel says that the airline is counting on unrealistic rebound in revenue and that even with the $5.2 billion in negotiated cost savings with the union, the airline would still be the highest cost carrier in the industry. The next day stock loses more than two-thirds of its value and credit rating agencies downgrade its debt to default status, as investors, customers and employees await bankruptcy filing.

Dec. 7, 2002 - The company's board of directors meets to weigh options, as union leaders warn members that bankruptcy is "unavoidable and imminent."

Dec. 9, 2002 - United announces it has filed for bankruptcy court protection. Says it has the bankruptcy financing needed to continue normal operations and flight schedules during the court supervised reorganization.  Top of page

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