View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

United Airlines has been one of the most predatory, poorly-run, customer-hostile airlines for years. For an industry that seems to thrive on ticket agents and flight attendants whose only power in their lives is their power over yours, that's saying something. Now, that United is reaping the bitter harvest of Chapter 11, they still haven't figured it out, only now it's equally clear that neither has the Denver city government.

Frontier Airlines, which has made money and expanded, even as other airlines are turning pilots and stewardesses into fast-food flippers and flight instructors, needs more gates, and is suggesting that they'll probably look elsewhere to expand. United is insisting that it is too using all those gates, yes even those over there with the mice and the spider webs and the rusted wheels on the mobile walkways. There's tumbleweed blowing through the far end of Concourse B, but we've just stepped out for lunch. Meanwhile, the lame-duck City Council has just told vendors they get no-rebid lease extensions, all the while charging infield box-seat prices for parking and landing. But they, "want to do what's fair to Frontier and United."

Fair? What would be fair, were a private company running this show, would be the put the CEOs of Frontier and United in a mud-wrestling pit and have them fight it out for who wants the gates more. This is also known as an "auction." The new mayor, so far, hasn't said anything, but this is a lot of money, and long-term money, we're talking about here.

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