A piece ran in the Denver Post yesterday speculating on the future hub status of Denver, implying that United is ready to axe it. I see no cause for concern just yet.
The rumors stem from internal UA documents that were released after a mini-shareholder revolt earlier this year. Shareholders (and to be clear, I am no longer one, having made not nearly as much money as I could have…) are understandably much more concerned about profit than for the 80K+ employees that make up United-Continental. An internal UA document released during the scuffle revealed plans on the table to cut Denver departures by 19%, a total of 37 daily departures.
A 19% cut would be huge, but with only a hypothetical plan on the table lacking any sort of specifics, I think it is premature for United gate workers and flight crews based in Denver to be fretting about having to move to Houston or find a new job.
“I don’t know if I will have to move. Moving? Over my dead body,” one United flight attendant said about the possibility that the Denver employee base would be moved to Houston, the home of Continental. She did not want to be identified out of fear for her job.
Why even speculate about this? At least for now, Denver still serves as a valuable hub for Midwest and Rocky Mountain operations and although Houston is not too far away, it is about the same distance to Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. With no hubs within 850 miles, plenty of space, relatively cheaper landing fees, an ideal location to reach smaller United Express cities, and the presence of a huge United maintenance base and Pilot Training Center, I am of the opinion that Denver will maintain its hub-status for years to come, even as DEN’s schedule, facing heavy competition from Southwest/Frontier and a market that cannot command the high fares UA was once able to get away with, will be trimmed perhaps by more than 19%.
Admittedly, it only fuels speculation when you get comments like this from the UA press office:
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” United spokesman Mike Trevino said. “Not everything has been decided and implemented. Integrating the two airlines is certainly a complex process, and it will take some time to do.”
Yeah, that’s going to soothe things over, especially when taken with Trevino’s other statement that “we are focused on agreements that are fair to employees and the company.”
While Trevino’s statements do not help, for the reasons I outlined above I look forward to continue to connect in Denver on my mileage runs and flights between Philadelphia and Southern California.