CHICAGO (AP) -- United Airlines will not only leave bankruptcy in the fall, but will turn a profit in 2006, airline CEO Glenn Tilton predicted in a newspaper interview.
Recent labor agreements will save the company $700 million, but other strategies must be employed in the face of rising fuel prices, Tilton told the Chicago Tribune for a story in Friday's editions. He said the airline's cash balance of $2.4 billion is encouraging, despite the fact that the company has lost more than $1.2 billion so far this year.
''The next chapter of our lives is to make good on the investment that our employees have made and to compete with the financial resilience that we've created for ourselves,'' Tilton said.
The carrier, a unit of Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based UAL Corp., will need to secure $2 billion to $2.5 billion from banks to finance its planned exit from Chapter 11.
Tilton, 57, said he's convinced the airline will have no trouble finding lenders if its business plan succeeds.
''We find ourselves in a position to be selective in securing the financing that is most appropriate and properly priced for exit financing,'' he said.
The airline has talked with four potential lenders, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank and GE Commercial Finance, the newspaper reported, without attribution.
Some industry observers doubt United will succeed in its quest to emerge from bankruptcy this year. Airline analyst Michael Boyd said he believes a spring 2006 exit is more likely.
UAL has lost $6 billion since entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2002.
The No. 2 U.S. airline said Tuesday its parent company has delayed filing a reorganization plan to leave bankruptcy, a move that could push its exit from Chapter 11 protection into next year.
United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton reiterated the carrier's intent to eliminate unionized employees' current pension plans and replace existing labor contracts as necessary to obtain bankruptcy exit...