WBEZ | United Airlines http://www.wbez.org/tags/united-airlines Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en United Airlines to cut 600 jobs http://www.wbez.org/news/united-airlines-cut-600-jobs-105130 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/airplane_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>United Airlines is cutting about 600 jobs as it aims to keep costs in line with reductions in flying.</p><p>The airline says the job cuts will include buyouts and layoffs. Some open positions won&#39;t be filled.</p><p>The cuts are spread around the company&#39;s locations, although many are expected to happen in Chicago. That&#39;s where United is based and where it has one of its biggest hubs at O&#39;Hare International Airport. The positions being cut are in management and administration.</p><p>In a memo to workers, CEO Jeff Smisek acknowledged last year was &ldquo;difficult&rdquo;, but said he was &ldquo;optimistic&rdquo; 2013 would be better.</p><p>United officials declined to provide details to WBEZ as to what impact the layoffs will have on headquarters. They did say the cuts will first be offered on a voluntary basis before involuntary layoffs are made. The 4,000 people who work at Willis Tower downtown are in the group targeted for cuts.</p><p>Last year, United Airlines gave $5.6 million dollars back to the city -&nbsp; mostly tax incremental financing, commonly called TIF funding - for its old offices on Wacker Drive.</p><p>It said then it had extended its lease at Willis Tower until 2028.</p><p>The layoffs come as United reports a loss of $723 million for last year. It&#39;s reducing flying this year, which is one reason for the layoffs.</p><p>Spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says United cut 4 senior officers last month, out of about 50 at the company. The company employs about 84,000 people worldwide.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 14:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/united-airlines-cut-600-jobs-105130 The economics of airline cancellation http://www.wbez.org/news/economics-airline-cancellation-103756 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP328816959534_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cancelling flights may leave hundreds, if not thousands of stranded passengers, but doing it early pays off for airlines, especially in the case of recent superstorm Sandy.</p><p>Two of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings&#39; biggest hubs - Newark, New Jersey and Washington Dulles - were directly in the path of Sandy. That&rsquo;s why the airline <a href="http://ir.unitedcontinentalholdings.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=83680&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1755935&amp;highlight=">said on Wednesday</a> the storm cost it $90 million worth of revenue in October.</p><p>But - this is the important part - the airline also said that lost revenue will have a profit impact of just $35 million.</p><p>Airline industry consultant <a href="http://www.rwmann.com/#Corporate%20Name%20and%20Address:">Bob Mann</a> says that&rsquo;s just the economics of what he calls &ldquo;proactive&rdquo; cancelation.&nbsp;By cancelling flights early, airlines avoid operational costs.</p><p>&quot;They avoided a lot of costs. They didn&rsquo;t fly, they didn&rsquo;t burn fuel. So in some case they didn&rsquo;t pay vendors,&quot; Mann said, via a very scratchy phone line from his home in Long Island, which is still recovering from Sandy.</p><p>Plus, the timing of this storm was fortunate in that late October to early November - basically, before Thanksgiving - is traditionally a fairly slow period for travel. That made it much easier for airlines to put stranded passengers on later flights.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;So on a net basis, the results were still material, but significantly smaller,&quot; Mann said. &quot;That&rsquo;s really the math associated with proactive cancelations.&nbsp;</p><p>How the rest of the year will play out is anyone&#39;s guess.&nbsp;The winter season hasn&rsquo;t even started yet, and there&rsquo;s no way to know how much more bad weather there will be.</p><p>As for Mann, not only is he dealing with Sandy, but he&rsquo;s also cleaning up after the Nor&rsquo;Easter snowstorm. Hopefully, that&#39;s not an indication of things to come.</p><p>&quot;This is the first time I&#39;ve ever had to shovel snow in November,&quot; he said.</p></p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economics-airline-cancellation-103756 United CEO: Peotone airport would damage Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/united-ceo-peotone-airport-would-damage-chicago-98404 <p><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; ">United Continental Holdings Inc. CEO Jeff Smisek said Thursday a third airport in Chicago would bring the city more harm than good. </span></div><div style="margin: 0px;">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin: 0px;"><span style="font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 10pt;">His remarks came just a few days before US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. plans to hold an event at the potental site of an airport in Peotone, to show local support of the project.</span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; ">Smisek said he didn't see and airport being built in Peotone because with an airport like O'Hare, there's no demand for a third.</span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; ">"</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">When you start diluting a hub, you damage the city. And whatever purported benefits a new airport would bring would be vastly overshadowed by the damage to the hub itself," he said.</span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Jackson's been working on a Peotone airport for years, as he believes it will give the South Side some much needed access to jobs and economic growth. He's planning on bringing a group of people to the site this weekend for what he calls a "people's groundbreaking." </span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">The airport has been a recent point of contention between Jackson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Though the mayor endorsed Jackson in the recent primary elections, he doesn't support the airport plan. Instead, the mayor has proposed expanding O'Hare International airport, saying it would be like adding a third airport without actually building a new one.</span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">Smisek was quiet on the subject of O'Hare's expansion at first, saying he looked forward to the talks with the mayor. When pressed, he explained that investment would only come if there was also demand.&nbsp;</span></div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; ">&nbsp;</div><div style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; "><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; ">"We're committed to Chicago, we're Chicago's hometown airline," he said. "We hope that the demand will be such that we can grow Chicago, and we certainly have the ability to grow Chicago if the demand is there."</span></div></p> Thu, 19 Apr 2012 17:39:05 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/united-ceo-peotone-airport-would-damage-chicago-98404 What do you do with an empty corporate campus? http://www.wbez.org/content/what-do-you-do-empty-corporate-campus <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 1_Flickr_Mark Hillary.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 2_Flickr_Robbie 1.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 176px;" title="(Flickr/Robbie Sproule)"></p><p>There’s a hot new trend among companies around the Midwest – threatening to leave.&nbsp;Several companies, especially around Chicago, have been asking big picture questions as they take a look at their bottom lines.</p><p>One is the food maker Sara Lee, which is&nbsp;going through a major transition as it prepares to split into two companies.&nbsp;One would be focused on meats, such as sausages and hot dogs.&nbsp;The other one would focus on beverages.</p><p>Company spokesman&nbsp;Jon Harris says the company believes a downtown location “would provide our new North American meats company with an environment that will be energetic, that will foster breakthrough thinking, create revolutionary products, offer fresh perspectives and really own the market.”</p><p>But that means moving from Sara Lee’s headquarters and test kitchens, which are currently based in Chicago’s western suburbs, in Downers Grove, Ill.</p><p>While no location has been chosen for the meat company, downtown Chicago is preferred, Harris says.&nbsp;If Sara Lee does pack up and move, it would leave behind a massive office building designed to hold at least 1,000 workers.</p><p>That’s something Martin Tully, the mayor of Downers Grove, isn’t too excited about, especially&nbsp;as it relates to collecting property taxes. “It’s not insignificant,” he says.</p><p>Tully says he’s working with Sara Lee to try to keep operations based there, but it’s hard when the company is going to split up.</p><p>Also,&nbsp;Sara Lee has no deep ties to Downers Grove.&nbsp;Its offices have only been there for six years. Tully says those six years have been worth it – even if he has to find a new tenant. As he says –&nbsp;who would pass up having Michael Jordan on your basketball team for six years?</p><p>But he has a word of warning for other towns that might be looking to unload one giant piece of land. “You have to be on your toes and alert for those things as a community and as an economic development engine,” said Tully.</p><p>Another&nbsp;example is United Airlines, which is&nbsp;moving thousands of employees to what used to be called the Sears Tower. It’s trying to sell its property in Elk Grove Village, in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, not far from O’Hare International Airport. But nobody is really biting.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-23/empty office 1_Flickr_Mark Hillary.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="(Flickr/Mark Hillary)">Mount Prospect – the town next door – wants to take over the land to try to redevelop it, even though there aren’t any buyers.</p><p>Stacey Kruger Birndorf, an expert on office space real estate issues for <a href="http://www.transwestern.net/Pages/default.aspx">Transwestern</a>, a commercial real estate company,&nbsp;says towns like Mount Prospect have to keep in mind what companies want when they look for a new home.</p><p>“I think so much of it is economically driven,” she says. “I wish I could say it’s geographically driven, but so much of it is economics.”</p><p>Kruger Birndorf says companies look at the cost of the property, where new recruits would want to work, and&nbsp;proximity to clients.&nbsp;She says young people by and large want to be downtown.&nbsp;But if a company wants a lot of space, the suburbs might be a better fit.</p><p>Asked whether it’s worth it for towns to allow big campuses that are hard to re-work into anything other than office space, Kruger Birndorf says towns have to go for it.</p><p>“If we don’t have some hope and some optimism,” there would never be any reason to do anything, she says.</p><p>As proof, look at Ann Arbor, Mich.&nbsp;&nbsp;Pfizer, the international pharmaceutical company, had a 70-acre facility there, but moved out in 2007. It left&nbsp;a modern research facility empty, and took a chunk of the city’s property tax budget with it.</p><p>When Ann Arbor couldn’t find a buyer, the price dropped, and the University of Michigan stepped in.</p><p>“You’re getting 2.2 million square feet of office and lab buildings, which seems like an incredible steal for $108 million,” said&nbsp;David Canter, the Executive Director of the North Campus Research Complex.</p><p>He’s turning the facility into a new type of research center for academia, putting&nbsp;researchers from different departments into the same workspace.&nbsp;Before taking over the Pfizer complex, each department on the university’s campus had its own building.</p><p>Now, Canter says pharmacists, dentists, and mathematicians can all be in the same place.</p><p>“As a result, the university will be able to grow without having to invest in designing and developing a lot of series of new buildings that tend to follow growth rather than be in advance of growth,” he says.</p><p>Canter says if Pfizer hadn’t left, this research project from the university wouldn’t exist. It’s an example of how thinking creatively about how work space is used &nbsp;can let both companies and towns breathe easier.</p><p>Changing Gears<em>is a collaboration between WBEZ, Michigan Radio and ideastream. Support for </em>Changing Gears<em>comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. </em></p></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/what-do-you-do-empty-corporate-campus Mayor Emanuel schedules Monday meeting with airline CEOs http://www.wbez.org/story/mayor-emanuel-schedules-monday-meeting-airline-ceos-92711 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to meet with some airline executives on Monday.</p><p>The mayor says he wants to discuss potential improvements to the city workforce and infrastructure that could help Chicago build its airline industry.</p><p>"We [the city] have all the basic assets," said the mayor in a press conference on Friday. "We have to think through and constantly ask questions, because I don't want to just sit on the lead, I want to expand it."</p><p>The mayor says he invited all major airline CEOs to the meeting.</p></p> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 22:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mayor-emanuel-schedules-monday-meeting-airline-ceos-92711 United Airline's move downtown leaves suburban land behind http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-move-downtown-leaves-suburban-land-behind-92139 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Anyone trying to sell a home these days has to have an iron stomach and a philosophical attitude. But if you think selling a house is hard, try unloading more than 60 acres. United Airlines has had a plot of land in the northwest suburbs on the market for two years,&nbsp; even though it's prime property in Cook County, where that much space is hard to come by.</p><p>Imagine the advertisement: For sale: 66-acres of land. A million square feet of office space. Close to O'Hare Airport and major highway. Three thousand parking spaces. Loads of green space. Equipped with tennis courts and a pond with one of those little fountains in the middle. Open to redevelopment. And no municipal taxes.</p><p>Okay, that's not an actual real estate ad,&nbsp; but it is a real piece of property. And the Cook County assessor's office says it's the biggest chunk of non-farm land available in Cook County.</p><p>The owner is United Airlines. It's been trying to find a buyer for its massive corporate open space and buildings for two years, as it's been relocating employees to Chicago. As the land sits unsold and pretty much unused, the site may be a cautionary tale about the changing nature of what corporations want.</p><p>SCHULER: These old campuses that have been built. I mean, people work differently today.</p><p>Fred Schuler is with the commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. He's a guy who follows how businesses are organized.</p><p>SCHULER: They're working in more efficient layouts. They're going from one window office to one secretary to, you know, open, lots of light in a cubed environment. You know, much more communication.</p><p>United is a client of Schuler's firm and neither United nor Schuler wanted to talk directly about the sale. But Schuler was quick to point out that downtown relocation is not the only trend for companies.</p><p>ARNOLD: We're not writing the obituary on the corporate campus any time soon, then?<br> SCHULER: No, not at all. You know, I was just looking at a list of tenants in the market and the ones that are maybe moving from suburbs to downtown get a ton of publicity, but what happens is, corporations out in the suburbs are asking us to put them in a more efficient environment and cost-effective environment.</p><p>Schuler says transportation, parking, environmentally friendly settings are now the priorities when companies think about their work spaces. And offices are more compact than they used to be. As companies constrict, more space is available for lease.</p><p>Earlier this year, Jones Lang LaSalle calculated almost 17 percent of office space is vacant in downtown Chicago. In the suburbs, they found 25 percent of office space not occupied. And there could be more open space coming. Other companies with big suburban campuses are showing signs of itchy feet.</p><p>Motorola Solutions just expanded from its Schaumburg base to some new office space in the Loop. Sara Lee has reportedly thought about leaving Downers Grove. And Sears has also reportedly been thinking of leaving its 200-acre campus - and Illinois - altogether.</p><p>So in this climate of change, who might be seeing United's space as a real value? Well, if you're a land-locked village with little room to grow, 66 acres is an attractive chunk of land. Enter the Village of Mount Prospect. Bill Cooney is in charge of community development for the village, which rubs up against the United property but doesn't include it. Cooney says the village has wanted the land for decades and now has its shot at controlling what happens there.</p><p>COONEY: When I say control, I'm really talking more about if someone comes along and wants to propose a very large housing development or amusement park; something outside of the boundaries of what we're really looking for.</p><p>Cooney says he doesn't want those houses or amusement parks. But he would welcome a developer who'd bring in a shopping mall or other corporate venture. That way, if the village got the land it could collect the taxes from it. There's just one tiny, little issue. The land is just barely too big for Mount Prospect to simply absorb. Six acres too big. If it were&nbsp; six acres smaller, Mount Prospect could just annex the land. But as it is, it has to reach an agreement with the next owner to make the land part of Mount Prospect.</p><p>Still, Cooney sees it as the village's big moment. But it's a waiting game.</p><p>COONEY: Since this property's been on the market, I've had very few calls on it. It's a combination of the cost and the size and primarily because of the economy.</p><p>That might be a note of warning for other towns with large corporate campuses. And while Mount Prospect sees a big possible win in redevelopment of the United land, Mike Nelson is gearing up to accept a loss. Nelson's a big, tall guy, with a graying Hulk Hogan mustache. He's the fire chief of Elk Grove Township, and he can see the United campus from his office across the street. His firefighters, 15 full time and 25 part time, have been taking care of United's campus in unincorporated Elk Grove Township for years. But that would change if the land is annexed by Mount Prospect; its fire department would be in charge.</p><p>NELSON: I don't see where it's going to happen today, but I'm sure within the next five to 10 years where this is going to wind up being taken in by the village.</p><p>Nelson says he wants the United land to be used eventually. But he's okay with it if the phones don't ring on the big sale for a little while.</p><p>For this week's windy indicator, we went underground, to the State and Lake subway platform on Chicago's Red Line, to hear what the economy looks like to people who have worked there through good times and bad.</p><p>Almost 20 years ago, Joseph Ellison's friends egged him on to bring his guitar to the subway during his lunch hour. He came back upstairs with 80 dollars in his hand, walked into his boss's office and quit.</p><p>ELLISON: I think the economy is really doing bad. I watch everything. We see everything out here.&nbsp; We can tell who's doing well, who's not doing well, who's overspending.</p><p>Ron Christian has been Joseph's musical partner since 1992.</p><p>CHRISTIAN: The way the economy is now, it's hurting everywhere. I used to come down here and make a nice amount of money. People are generous, they just don't have the money to do it. If you have a good talent, you might just get by. I sing with two orchestras, and I'm in a band, so I'm working all the time. I do this full-time, this is my living.&nbsp;</p><p>ELLISON: I believe music has a healing power in it. We're like the doctor. It's not us--it's the music, the lord. Here, I'll show you…</p><p>John Joe:&nbsp; How about Otis Redding?&nbsp; Otis.&nbsp; That's how strong my love is.</p><p>JOE: I"ve never done that before. I just wanted to hear some Otis Redding. They're working hard, they earn every dollar they get. I'm a musician, so I know how hard it is to do that.</p><p>John plays funk and R&amp;B at clubs like Buddy Guy's Legends, but today he's on his way home from school. He's studying to be an X-ray technician.</p><p>JOE:&nbsp; I've got three kids.&nbsp; I'm doing my future for them.</p></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-move-downtown-leaves-suburban-land-behind-92139 At Emanuel budget forum, TIF question raises roof http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/Rahm2.JPG_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The questions Wednesday night ranged from potholes to bus fares, from school-day hours to traffic-aide layoffs. But nothing roused the crowd like the city’s 165 tax-increment-financing districts, which draw off half-a-billion property-tax dollars a year for economic development.</p><p>About 700 people overflowed a gym at Malcolm X College on Chicago’s West Side for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second public meeting on a city budget gap he says will top $635 million.</p><p>Ashley Moy-Wooten of the Chicago-based Grassroots Collaborative told the mayor too many TIF dollars have gone to big companies like United Airlines.</p><p>“Would you commit to not giving any money to these giant corporations?” she asked, provoking the evening’s biggest round of applause. “And would you commit to shutting down these downtown TIFs?”</p><p>Emanuel made no promises but said it was “wrong” for the big companies to get TIF funds when neighborhoods were suffering. “I can’t reverse the past,” the mayor added. “I have to shape the future. That’s why I created a new standard that we finally have.”</p><p>Emanuel said a TIF overhaul proposed this week by a panel he appointed would bring more transparency and jobs.</p><p>The 90-minute forum followed a similar event Monday evening at Kennedy-King College on the city’s South Side.</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 05:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374 United Airlines getting back to ‘normal’ following computer glitch http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-getting-back-%E2%80%98normal%E2%80%99-following-computer-glitch-88040 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-20/116854948.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-based United Airlines continues to recover from a massive computer failure this weekend. The system-wide computer outage lasted only five hours beginning Friday night into early Saturday morning. But that was enough to strand or delay thousands of United passengers.</p><p>United spokesman Charles Hobart said Sunday that nearly 40 flights were canceled with another hundred delayed. “The airline does not expect additional cancellations due to the computer outage and will continue to accommodate affected customers,” Hobart said in a written statement to WBEZ on Sunday.&nbsp; “The airline is returning to normal.”</p><p>A network connectivity issue is to blame for knocking out United’s ability to process passengers. The company provided few other details out the cause of the outage but ruled out computer hackers. United announced the outage on its Twitter page around 7:15 p.m. Friday. Shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday, computers started to come on line, first announced at Denver International Airport.</p><p>At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, hundreds of passengers were still waiting to depart on later flights.<br> United passenger Rama-krishman Nara of Ottawa, Canada was delayed more than three hours. He had to settle for a 7 a.m. Saturday flight back home. “Initially they didn’t tell us anything actually. They kept on saying something but never told us about the wait,” Nara told WBEZ. “It was a nightmare.”</p><p>Another passenger, Michael Christopher of Boston boarded his plane more than 12 hours after he was supposed to. Christopher said delays of any sort are becoming all too common in the airline industry. “I’ve flown enough on all the major carriers, this sort of stuff happens on all of them now. United happen to be the one today where it happened to me.”</p><p>United apologized to customers. Meanwhile, United wasn’t the only airline to experience some computer malfunction this weekend. US Airways reported a three-hour computer systems outage affecting its Charlotte, N.C. hub. The Tempe, Arizona-based airline said the outage also affected a reservations center and training facility.</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 05:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-getting-back-%E2%80%98normal%E2%80%99-following-computer-glitch-88040 Computer glitch disrupts, delays United Airlines http://www.wbez.org/story/computer-glitch-disrupts-delays-united-airlines-88021 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/United Airlines jet_Flickr_iambents.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 9:00am, 06/18/11</em></p><p>It could take several days for thousands of stranded travelers to get home after a United Airlines computer system shut down for several hours, leading to widespread cancelations Friday night.&nbsp;</p><p>The unspecified "network connectivity" problem was fixed and flights resumed early Saturday, but the airline said delays could persist throughout the weekend. Also, with flights nearly full, there was little room for passengers whose flights had been cancelled to rebook.</p><p>"There's literally nowhere to put them," airline analyst Robert Mann said. "There are already very few empty seats on the flights that operate."</p><p>United's planes were an average of 86.8 percent full in May.</p><p>To try to alleviate the congestion, the airline allowed passengers with tickets on Saturday flights to cancel or delay their travel to a later date without charge. Luckily, Saturday is one of the lighter travel days.</p><p><strong>Outage began Friday evening, left passengers in limbo</strong></p><p>The outage started about 7:15 p.m. CDT Friday and lasted for about five hours. Long lines of passengers formed at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. Some passengers ended up spending the night at airports or found hotel rooms in the cities where they were stranded.</p><p>United said its flight departures, airport processing and reservation system, including its website, were affected by the outage.</p><p>United didn't say how many passengers or flights were affected. But Los Angeles International Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the outage affected about 2,500 people at that airport alone.</p><p>Nina and Mark Whitford of Brockville, Ontario, ended up in Chicago while on a layover on their flight home from Minneapolis. They said they were headed to a hotel to spend the night and were dismayed when an airline worker told them they would have to mail in their hotel receipt to get reimbursed.</p><p>"We've been waiting here for about two hours for our baggage, and nothing's come," said Nina Whitford, 35.</p><p>She said several people were still at the airport around 1 a.m. CDT Saturday, and others on their flight had rented cars to complete their trip to Canada.</p><p>"Some people were sleeping and some people were getting very angry because no one was giving us any answers," she said.</p><p>Ron Schaffer, an Apple Inc. engineer, was trying to connect with a flight to Grand Junction, Colo., after flying into Denver from Orlando, Fla.</p><p>"A hundred yards of kiosks, and every one of them closed," he said, adding there were no flights listed on monitors. "Workers were trying to answer questions. They have no ability to do anything manually. They can't check baggage. You can't get baggage. You are really stuck."</p><p>Some Continental Airlines passengers also were affected by the outage.</p><p>United and Continental merged in May 2010. They still operate as separate airlines but are slowly integrating systems. United spokesman Charles Hobart said Saturday morning that Continental was able to dispatch flights normally, but some of its airport kiosks were affected. He would not comment on the total number of cancelations or passengers affected, saying the airline was still updating its information.</p><p><strong>Use of computerized systems has increased</strong></p><p>Airlines today place greater reliance on computers than a decade ago. Most passengers are now asked to check-in online, at airport kiosks or via their mobile phones. When the system crashes, the problems are just that much greater.</p><p>"They're infrequent, but the fact that they happen at all is puzzling. These are mission critical," Mann said. "The idea that they would fail is troubling."</p><p>While the airlines have sleek, modern check-in kiosks at the airports, the underlying reservation system behind them dates back to the 1980s, Mann said. Many airlines that went through bankruptcies in the past decade, including United, didn't invest in new systems.</p><p>When the system fails, flight plans and dispatch operations must all be done on paper.</p><p>"There are fewer and fewer people at airlines who are familiar with or able to operate with a manual system," Mann said.</p><p>At the San Francisco International Airport, hundreds of passengers stood shoulder-to-shoulder.</p><p>Still, some people took the delays in stride.</p><p>Steve Cole, 51, of Bloxwich, England, was at the San Francisco airport waiting for a flight to Las Vegas.</p><p>"These are the things you have to expect when you're on holiday." Cole said. "I'm missing a night of gambling," he added with a grin.</p><p>___</p><p>Associated Press writers Scott Mayerowitz in New York, John S. Marshall in San Francisco and Denise Petski in Los Angeles and photographers Rick Bower in Denver and Charles Rex Arbogast in Chicago contributed to this report.</p></p> Sat, 18 Jun 2011 03:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/computer-glitch-disrupts-delays-united-airlines-88021 United Airlines to bring 1,300 new jobs to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-bring-1300-new-jobs-chicago-87708 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-10/United 2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>United Airlines announced Friday that the company is bringing 1,300 new jobs to Chicago. That caps off a topsy turvy week for Chicago business.</p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says this United Airlines news is just the beginning. "There will be more companies that are investing in their operations here and important in investing in the city of Chicago because of their confidence in the decisions we're making," he said.</p><p>But the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange are threatening to leave the state. They say high taxes in Illinois could force them to move. In January the corporate tax rate went from 4.8% to 7%.</p><p>But Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said yesterday he won't tolerate corporate shakedowns for tax incentives. Quinn drove the point home saying, "I don't think anybody likes paying taxes, but that's the price of having a democracy. We have to have good schools, we need our men and women out there in the streets protecting us from any roaming bands of thugs."</p><p>In Illinois, the CBOE and CME have more than 2,500 employees.</p></p> Fri, 10 Jun 2011 19:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/united-airlines-bring-1300-new-jobs-chicago-87708