Scott McCartney interviewed United CEO Scott Kirby in the Wall Street Journal and four things stood out for me.
- Five passengers have been temporarily banned from the airline for refusing to wear masks. The ban lasts as long as masks are required, and that’s expected to be until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine. (China is effectively in a stage 3 trial for an attenuated virus vaccine now, since they’re vaccinating their military.)
- United will keep older planes flying longer to avoid capital spending while paying down debt
- For inflight product investments “it will be more like the postrecession years of the past—you take the small improvements where you can.”
- Kirby “approved putting ice back on airplanes and starting coffee and tea service” on Monday.
There are two real takeaways here, I think.
- As Kirby has said many times – debt gets paid down first before the airline makes other new investments. And this month they’ve been in the mode of taking on more debt, they aren’t anywhere close to paying it back.
- United’s CEO is personally approving ice, coffee and tea. That’s Scott Kirby the micro-manager, in contrast American’s CEO wasn’t involved in the decision to eliminate meals from first class on most of their domestic flights.