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United Airlines Management Failing Employees, Passengers, Shareholders say Flight Attendants

Date: October 17, 2001

CHICAGO -- United Airlines flight attendant representative Linda Farrow, president of the United Master Executive Council of the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, issued this statement in response to CEO Jim Goodwin's threatening letter which claims that the airline could go out of business next year:

"After furloughing over 5,200 flight attendants and almost 15,000 other United employees, United CEO Jim Goodwin now writes us a letter warning of the pending financial collapse of our company if costs are not contained. If what Goodwin says is true -- that United could be out of business in the next year -- then he is failing the employees, shareholders and passengers of United Airlines.

"The devastating effects of Sept. 11 cannot be minimized, but we also cannot allow United management to use the attacks as a smokescreen to hide its failures prior to Sept. 11.

"Early last summer, my flight attendant colleagues passed a resolution of 'no confidence' in current United management. We did so because Goodwin had made a number of mind-numbingly irresponsible financial decisions over the past year, including a failed merger with US Airways that cost our airline tens of millions of dollars and the start-up of a luxury aircraft subsidiary now called Avolar. These decisions are now coming back to haunt our airline, and are at the root of Goodwin's prediction of long-term financial ruin.

"As Goodwin wrote his letter projecting doom for this revered airline within a year, he had just received $390 million of an expected $800 million in taxpayer aid from the U.S. Congress. He had won from Congress the ability to qualify for hundreds of millions more in grants and special loans from the government to help it through the crisis. And Goodwin had gotten protection from liability from the events of Sept. 11 potentially totaling in the billions. With a wink and a nod, Goodwin turned around from that financial windfall and was signing checks totaling tens of millions of dollars to a French jet maker and committing billions more to financing the start-up of Avolar.

"United flies the strongest route network in the world and is served by the industry's most dedicated employees. If Goodwin does not believe he can make this airline work, he should allow this company to move forward by stepping down as the airline's Chairman and CEO.

"As employees, we need to know that our management is acting in the best interest of our airline. Belief in the strength and history of United is what has kept the flight attendants dedicated through the tough times of the past year and a half. However, current management and its failed policies have shaken our confidence. It's time that qualified, new management took over this airline to lead us into the future."

More than 50,000 flight attendants, including the 26,000 United flight attendants, join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. Visit us at www.afanet.org

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