United Airlines turns a corner
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby rarely has a sleepless night, he said yesterday on the Edge observation deck, 1,100 feet above Manhattan.
Driving the news: Kirby and his team held a reception at the restaurant attached to the tourist attraction to celebrate the launch of United’s new ad campaign, “Good Leads The Way.”
Why it matters: The fact that airlines are advertising again is symbolic of the confidence they have, Helane Becker, a senior research analyst at Cowen, told me at the same event.
Flashback: Two years ago, Kirby — who was about to take the reins — and other airline CEOs were worried about the CARES Act passing, which allocated $25 billion to U.S. passenger airlines.
- “[We] would have had to shut the airline down [without the funding],” he said.
State of play: Airlines are in a completely different position now.
- As demand for travel has surged, airfare prices have risen 33% as of April compared to the same period last year.
- United said last month that it expects to make a profit this year for the first time since before the pandemic.
Of note: During Monday’s event, Kirby addressed a crowd of employees, partners and media before playing the new ad spot.
- “I actually told our board this year that I had the easiest job of anyone at United Airlines … because there’s really only one responsibility — which is to make our employees proud,” he said.
- “When our employees are proud, and you’re on a flight, they want you to feel about the airline what they feel.”
The big picture: Our interview on the observation deck was cut short by wind and rain, but after the clouds parted, a rainbow appeared above the Empire State building just as a United plane flew above it.
- That's just how it's going for airlines at the moment.