United Airlines ready to wage war for USAir

JOHN SHEPHERD

United Airlines will hold a board meeting on Monday to consider whether to start a multi-billion dollar bidding war with American Airlines for control of USAir, the financially strapped airline. British Airways holds a key 25 per cent stake, worth more than pounds 400m ($631m) in USAir.

Senior pilots of United Airlines have been briefed about the company's takeover plans at a closed-door meeting at a hotel near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The meeting was led by Gerald Greenwald, chief executive of United, and attended by other top executives and 30 pilots.

Union officials and others at the meeting were required to sign confidentiality agreements. Sources close to the situation said that the pilots did not vote on the potential transaction at the two-hour meeting.

The pilots did, however, raise several concerns about seniority and the blending of corporate cultures, which could lead to redundancies if an acquisition occurred.

The board of United is also understood to have held briefing sessions with other groups of workers, who collectively own 55 per cent of the company following last year's employee buyout. Mr Greenwald has stressed that a transaction would not take place without the full support of all United's employees.

A spokesman for USAir said yesterday that he was aware of the briefings, but could not comment on whether United would make a hostile takeover move after Monday's meeting.

He added that takeover talks were still being held with American Airlines. Robert Crandall, chairman, has sent a memo to American's staff saying that the company would not stand idly by if United made a bid for USAir.

"If United seeks to acquire USAir, we will be prepared to respond with a bid, or by other means as necessary, to protect American's competitive position," he said in the memo.

The main takeover attraction for either American or United is USAir's extensive network on the eastern seaboard. USAir is based in Virginia.

USAir's finances have been improving recently, but not fast enough to counter the cumulative $3bn (pounds 1.9bn) of losses suffered in the last six years.

The company is also saddled with heavy long-term debts, and has the highest cost base among all the main American carriers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

George Parlour: Client Billings Assistant

£15 - £17 Hourly Rate: George Parlour: Do you have experience in media billing...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor