United's Bailout Rip-off

It's time for another Hightower Hog Report!

Today's herd of oinkers come from the executive suite of United Airlines. These fat executives have recently grown a lot fatter, courtesy of us American taxpayers. As part of the recent bailout of the airline industry, congress dumped almost a billion of our tax dollars into United's corporate trough. This was done because the industry claimed it was facing immediate bankruptcy due to losses it suffered after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Actually, United was in a steep financial dive prior to the attacks, having lost some $600 million in the first half of this year, despite having of one of the most lucrative route networks of any airline. One financial expert call these losses "inexcusable and staggering." Apparently, the pack of porkers in charge of United is none too swift, but since the bailout, they've certainly proven to be hoggish. Rather than investing their bailout funds in the US of A, including rehiring the 20,000 loyal United workers fired after the terrorist attacks, the boss hogs' first act was to begin wiring $600 million to a French company to buy a fleet of 30 luxury jets.

It seems that even though United is being bailed out by us ordinary taxpayers, it's shifting a big part of its business to serving an elite clientele of corporations, celebrities, and other wealthy clients who'll buy time shares in these private jets, starting at $500,000 a year to purchase 50 hours of flying. Far from your usual bad chicken sandwich, United promises to pamper these special customers, having hired a new "vice president of customer experience" from the ritzy Ritz-Carlton hotel chain to oversee the pampering. The head of United's new posh jet operation says, "this business was something we viewed as a big win-win for everybody."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Tell that to the US taxpayers and fired workers who're subsidizing United's private luxury flights.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.