North Korea has warned that if provoked, it will strike Guam with a nuclear missile. Despite a bellicose exchange of threats between North Korea and United States, United Airlines is conducting business as usual from its Pacific island hub.
United Airlines has a hub in Guam that it inherited from Continental Airlines who operated a Micronesia subdivision for several decades. That hub remains intact with service to neighbor islands, Hawaii, and several Asian cities.
It’s also 2,100 miles (3,400km) from North Korea, placing the U.S. territory within the target range of the North’s burgeoning nuclear weapons program.
A friend who works for United in Guam forwarded me the following note sent to local employees by United President Scott Kirby:
I know you’ve all seen the worldwide headlines this week regarding North Korea’s threat toward Guam.
Be assured, we are watching this situation closely and remain in constant touch with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and other government partners. Based on our consultations, we will continue to operate a normal schedule at this time.
We recognize how troubling this situation is for many of our team members throughout the region and we will be prepared to quickly assist with any support if it becomes necessary.
The safety and welfare of our employees and customers is always our highest priority, and we will continue to share timely updates with you as this situation evolves.
With strong rhetoric coming from both the USA and North Korea, I can understand the fear amongst employees. I also understand Kirby’s promise “to quickly assist with any support if it becomes necessary” rings hollow if the DPRK preemptively strikes Guam.
What do you think? Should United suspend service to Guam (and Seoul) or would doing so constitute a fear-based, knee-jerk, counterproductive reaction to a non-credible threat?
I have a very strong opinion on this topic, but will refrain from sharing it, at least for now…