Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, is unapologetic: United Airlines expects to be the world’s biggest airline by next summer as it awaits the return of its 777 aircraft and continues to take possession of new planes.
In a video message to employees reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly, Kirby recounts his week in Scotland at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), noting that United Airlines was the only major airline invited and that he dined with U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, as well as meeting with other world leaders.
Attendees loved Polaris class, and “dozens” have praised the comfort and the excellent service aboard.
But things start to become interesting when Kirby speaks about growth. Comparing United’s disciplined growth to American Airlines irresponsible growth, which has resulted in dismal operational performance, Kirby predicts that more rapid growth will soon return to United, positioning it to be the world’s largest airline:
“What we’re doing in the next couple of years is going to solidify our position as the leading global airline in a way that no one else could ever catch up with us.”
“We made all the right choices, we took the difficult decisions going through COVID, but we put ourselves up to be the top global airline, and we’re doing it responsibly, avoiding some of the issues and meltdowns that other airlines have had.” And we’re responsibly growing that schedule back; you’ll see us quickly go from having a smaller schedule during COVID when it was appropriate to have a smaller schedule to, as we see actual demand at Christmas and business demand start to recover in January, you’ll see us getting back to 100 per cent and well beyond 100 per cent of where we were in 2019″.
“I believe it will be a roaring success by the time we get to next summer. All of our business travel will take some time to resume, but I believe we will be the biggest airline in the world. More significantly, we will be the world’s largest airline”.
Interestingly He has not stated what he means by “largest airline in the world,” however airline size may be assessed in a variety of ways, to name a few:
- Fleet size
- Revenue generated by the company
- Routes serviced
Which indicators will determine if United is the largest or the biggest? Perhaps Mr Kirby will be able to explain this on another occasion soon.