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Transcript: United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby on “Face the Nation,” September 13, 2020

The following is a transcript of an interview with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby that aired Sunday, September 13, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: The airline business is one among the hardest hit this 12 months attributable to the coronavirus. We wish to go now to the CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, who joins us from Beaver Creek, Colorado. Good morning to you.

UNITED CEO SCOTT KIRBY: Good morning, MARGARET. Thanks for having me this morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. The US taxpayer, by way of the US Congress, offered United and different airways with emergency reduction. United took about 5 billion in money and loans as a part of that emergency program. The deal expires October 1st. That’s simply two and a half weeks away. Do you continue to count on to have to put off roughly 16,000 folks?

KIRBY: Yeah, so first I wish to say what the administration, the Congress, each homes, each parties- it was a exceptional bipartisan response, actually to rescue not simply the aviation business, however the complete economic system again in March, an unprecedented bipartisan response. But that is lasting longer and is deeper than most individuals thought again then. And our income, we simply mentioned, goes to be down 85% in the third quarter. And in a world like that, United Airlines and others come October 1st with out an extension of the CARES Act, we’re hopeful that there shall be earlier than October 1st, goes to be compelled to put off staff simply to outlive. We trust in the long-term way forward for having the ability to convey everybody again. But getting via a disaster the place income is down 85% is simply not sustainable for an business like aviation or nearly any enterprise for that matter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many individuals shall be laid off? 

KIRBY: Well, at the second, it’s- it’s 16,000, although we proceed to work with our unions. Our unions have been incredible companions. In a world the place income is down that a lot, the layoffs are far smaller than they in any other case would have been. And we simply acquired a deal final week that will save about 3,000 of these jobs that are pilots. And we proceed to work with unions on others. But the actuality is, with out extra authorities help for the complete economic system, there’s going to be extra layoffs to come back throughout the economic system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I perceive you are saying you hope extra federal help is coming, however talks are stalled in- in Congress. Why cannot you go to the non-public markets for that money? What particularly do you want from the federal authorities?

KIRBY: So at United we’ve got gone to the non-public market. We raised about 18 billion {dollars} since this began in capital and- to get via the disaster. But in a world the place we’re nonetheless burning 25 million {dollars} per day, you simply cannot go perpetually on that. And our view is demand just isn’t coming again. People will not be going to get again and journey like they did earlier than till there is a vaccine that is been broadly distributed and obtainable to a big portion of the inhabitants. And I hope that occurs sooner, however our guess is that is the finish of subsequent 12 months. And so that you simply acquired to outlive these losses via that point and be able to bounce again. And we’ll be ready to bounce again and bounce again shortly. But actually, you understand, with out authorities help for an business that is as vital and an financial engine for the complete economic system, that is actually the level for aviation, is we drive financial exercise not only for ourselves, however for the communities that we serve.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. And I wish to underscore one thing you simply mentioned there, since you mentioned you do not assume enterprise will be capable to come again till there’s a vaccine broadly distributed. There is the notion, notably amongst some conservatives, that the economic system can come again whereas the virus continues to flow into. But you run a world airline, and proper now, Americans aren’t even allowed into Europe. They’re not allowed into Canada. They’re not allowed into China. 

KIRBY: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your worldwide income was down 96% 12 months over 12 months in the final quarter.

KIRBY: Correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So is the backside line right here, you’ll be able to’t do each at the similar time? The virus must be beneath management.

KIRBY: Right. There are some components of the economic system that may get well and are doing effectively, however there are giant components of the economic system, aviation is one among the most evident, however something to do with leisure, hospitality, assembly, conference providers, eating places are all hurting and- and albeit, are close to melancholy ranges. And borders, as you say, are closed round the world. And that is 50% of our income. And till borders open up, that is not coming again. Business journey is sort of nonexistent as persons are doing issues like this as they get via the pandemic. And even leisure journey is down considerably from the place it was earlier than. And that is simply the actuality. And in a enterprise like ours, demand just isn’t going to come back again till folks really feel protected being round different folks. And that is going to take a vaccine. And that is simply the actuality. Some companies can get well earlier, however in aviation and all the industries that we help, it may take longer.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you gotten any response from the Trump administration to this letter that you simply signed onto asking for some coordination with European officers for testing, for instance, that will enable for journey to open?

KIRBY: Look, what I’d say is the administration and each events, by the method, senators, congressmen and girls on either side of the aisle are very supportive of aviation, each the looking for methods to open up borders via testing, but in addition via an extension of the payroll help program. We simply need to get a much bigger deal executed. We’re sort of wrapped up in the larger negotiations which are going on in Washington. But there’s actually quite a lot of help for aviation.  And folks perceive the significance to the economic system. We simply appear to be tied up in the- in the Washington- the bigger Washington discussions about the future. But there’s- there’s important help.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very shortly, why do you assume it is protected to fly?

KIRBY: Look, at United Airlines, we have been a frontrunner in security from the- from the starting of this. We’re very pleased with it. We created a partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic known as CleanPlus that is helped us innovate and discover methods to maintain folks protected, whether or not it is electrostatic spraying each airplane. We have been the first- actually one among the first corporations to require masks round the world. But I believe the most vital factor for security on airplanes and the least understood is the airflow on airplanes. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

KIRBY: The air- plane are designed to have the air come out of the ceiling to the floorboards and refilter via HEPA nice filters each two to a few minutes. It’s actually no place which you can ever be that is anyplace near an airplane.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

KIRBY: And we have been performing some research with the DARPA that’ll- that’ll assist show how protected plane actually are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Kirby, good luck to you. Thank you to your time. We’ll be again in a second.

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