This week’s featured link:
And it Turned in to a Boardroom Blitz – Wandering Aramean
I was debating writing a full post about United’s board room brawl, but I’m not quite there yet. I want to see what happens next. In short, United has activist minority shareholders (Altimeter and PAR Capital) that have a lot of history in this industry. And they’re trying to facilitate a board coup. The board tried to appease them by adding new outside directors, but it wasn’t enough. These guys are pushing for 6 of their own, including a new board chair in former Continental boss Gordon Bethune.
To me, the timing of this couldn’t be any worse. Had they tried this a year ago I think many would have supported the effort. After all, United was an airline under previous rudderless leadership that couldn’t get its act together. Yet now, with a new CEO, the signs are at least positive. We don’t know how it’ll turn out, but we know that he seems to be a uniter and people want to rally around him. If he doesn’t screw this up and surrounds himself with the right people, then this could be the beginning of a success story. If “stay the course” is ever a good plan for United, this seems to be the time to try it.
At the same time, bringing Gordon Bethune back into the airline could be one of the most divisive moves around. Gordon was a Continental guy. Those who are on the Continental side will clearly have rose-colored glasses and unreasonably high expectations. Those on the United side will expect another round of Continental rah-rah that’s just not needed.
I may very well have more to say on this as the fight unfolds, but for now, I’m just scratching my head at the timing.
Two for the road:
Amazon lines up fleet of Boeing jets to build its own air-cargo network – The Seattle Times
And the newest airline in the US is… Amazon. Ok, not really. But Amazon, which had been quietly using 5 freighters as a test, is now deciding that it wants to be in the air cargo market in a big way. It’ll have 20 767s via ATSG to help build a backbone to make it easier for goods to move faster and cheaper to get to customers. Combine this with its last mile plans to use drones, and you can see how Amazon becomes a formidable logistics company (even moreso than it is today).
Chasing the shadow of the moon: To intercept eclipse, Alaska Airlines adjusts flight plan to delight astronomers – Alaska Airlines Blog
This week there was a total solar eclipse, but it was going to be hard to catch. Alaska, however, had a flight from Anchorage to Honolulu that was going to be close. So, the airline moved the flight by 25 minutes to make sure it would fly through at the exact right time. The result is stunning, as you can see in this video from a very, very excited passenger.