United Airlines’ Dahlman Rose Global Transportation Conference presentation

Several airline, trucking and leasing executives made presentations at the fourth annual Dahlman Rose Global Transportation Conference in New York this week. According to the firm’s CEO Kim Fennebresque, the event “serves as an ideal platform to highlight the importance of the transportation industry in today’s global economy and promote an interactive discussion between management and investors.” United Airlines sent John Rainey, the carrier’s Senior Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis, whose presentation slides can be found here.

I enjoy following these events in hopes the presenters go off-script a bit and/or reveal juicy details in the Q&A session, but sadly there was no live audio for this one. The slides offer a high-level summary of the state of United Airlines and were very similar to those I previously reviewed, but I still find items to note and here are a few of them worth a quick review (all slides courtesy of United Airlines):

Additional detail for the above claims are included in the full set of slides, but this was a nice snapshot showing that United is basically on top in the metrics most critical to investors.

Further supporting the first slide, this one shows United beating the other U.S. majors in pre-tax margin and liquidity, the latter for which United has $1.8 billion in unrestricted cash.

Airline stock prices have been hard hit this year and irrespective of carrier viability, they all seem to follow the same pattern.

Here I’m surprised United expects to have a single FAA operating certificate by the end of this year claiming JCBAs (joint collective bargaining agreements) would be in place with the unions. (Channel nine lovers, get ready to hear only “Continental” for all United flights, by the way.) While discussions between management and the unions seem more amiable than that over at American or US Airways, for example, they might be blowing some smoke here. Also, caution to we travelers as the transition from the Apollo GDS to Shares for reservations, check-in and departure management will most certainly create some headaches. Having intimate knowledge of both systems, this will be an incredible achievement if pulled off without impact to the front lines. Mark my words; there will be significant challenges here. By 2014 or 2015, United will most certainly be looking to transition to a more robust GDS.

Other airlines in attendance at the event were Alaska, Allegiant, Copa, Delta, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit, US Airways and WestJet. This is one of the newest conferences of its type, but I’m surprised American didn’t make a showing. Maybe, though, given their bleak outlook it would have been counter-productive. American really impressed me during my travels with them this year, but I’m full speed ahead in my quest for million-miler status with United unless they significantly alter the program that should be announced within the next month or two.

United will be presenting at another conference later this month and I’ll be sure to post additional updates with any revealing insight.

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    • I believe they’ll be operating using Continental’s cert, so that’s why I’m assuming “United” will go away. Could be wrong, of course, as in your example of Cactus.

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