The NY Times reports:
United Continental is facing an insurrection among its shareholders — led by the well-regarded former chief executive of Continental Airlines, Gordon M. Bethune.
Mr. Bethune is one of six director candidates put forward on Tuesday by two hedge funds, Altimeter Capital Management and PAR Capital Management, which together own about 7.1 percent of United’s shares. ...
The activists argue that United has badly underperformed over the last five years, despite its name recognition and size, which the hedge funds argue arises from its board.
Whatever the reasons for United's poor stock performance, it certainly isn't that they've been spending too much money on their customers:
Early last summer, a team at United Airlines set out to discover what bothered its passengers most. The airline collects 8,000 customer surveys a day, and there was a lot to choose from: Was it extra fees for luggage? The lack of legroom? The sour, thin coffee? Was it being forced to spend 20 hours in a frigid military barracks in Newfoundland (as passengers on a United flight to London did last June)? How about the carrier’s tendency to lose the one bag you really need? (On June 17, 2014, Rory McIlroy tweeted: “Hey @united landed in Dublin yesterday morning from Newark and still no golf clubs... Sort of need them this week.”) Could it be the problems with the reservation system that caused widespread delays in 2012, and again in 2014, or the computer glitch on July 8, 2015, that led the airline to suspend all its flights, all over the world, for two hours? In October, United failed to provide a wheelchair to a passenger with cerebral palsy; he had to crawl off the plane.
It’s been five years since United Airlines and Continental Airlines combined to form what was at the time the world’s largest carrier, and the merger hasn’t gone well.
You can say that again:
Labor relations are sour, customer satisfaction is low and the basic measurements of the airline’s operational performance are dismal compared with its main rivals.
Passengers surveyed by Skytrax, an airline quality rating agency, give United a grade of 3 out of 10, the same as the low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines. (American earned a 4, Delta got a 5 and top-rated carriers like Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Qatar Airways received 7’s.) ...
On-time performance is one of the biggest problems for the carrier. In July , for instance, about 25 percent of all United flights did not land on time, ranking the airline ninth among 13 domestic airlines, according to FlightStats. This compared with 18 percent for Delta Air Lines and an industry average of 22 percent. While Delta can boast of going several weeks without canceling a single flight, United had the second-lowest percentage of completed flights after WestJet in July, the last month for which government statistics were available. ...
United has not recovered from the difficulties of the merger, in which stressed-out employees took out their frustration on passengers, Mr. Ali said. “It created chaos,” he said, “and the passengers were the ones that suffered.”
Yet, it just keeps getting worse.