United Has Outside Buyer Interest

CHICAGO (AP) -- Creditors at UAL Corp., parent of bankrupt United Airlines, for the first time have indicated that outside buyers have expressed interest in taking over the carrier as it emerges from Chapter 11.

In a court filing Friday, the airline's creditors committee said it didn't object to giving UAL's current management an extension until Sept. 1 for exclusive rights to file a financial reorganization plan for UAL.

But the committee said it did not agree with the implication that there were no other qualified parties interested in submitting alternate plans of reorganization.

United, the world's second-largest carrier after AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, said it wasn't aware of any competing plans being put forward.

A news report Monday named Texas Pacific Group of Fort Worth, Texas, and investor groups headed by two former airline chiefs, United's Gerald Greenwald and Continental's Gordon Bethune as the interested buyers. The report in Crain's Chicago Business cited industry sources and sources close to United. The weekly paper also reported that Thomas Buffenbarger, international president of the International Association of Machinists, Friday said that he was aware of interest from at least two outside investor groups.

Union spokesman Frank Larkin said Buffenbarger couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday. Larkin said he couldn't discuss potential investors in United. The groups mentioned in the Crain's story, he said, ''are the usual suspects'' in airline investment.

United's management, which has said the airline could emerge from bankruptcy as early as this fall, is led by Glenn Tilton, an executive with no previous airline experience.

United filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

UAL shares fell 11 cents, or 7.4 percent, to $1.37 in late over-the-counter trading Monday.

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