Airline travel could be tricky this summer. A bankruptcy judge has declared that United Airlines can dump its employee retirement plans, to avoid a financial crash-landing. The world's second largest airline says it needs to shed its pension obligations to stay in business, but the company's union says workers will pay too high a price.
It also could hit taxpayers hard in their wallets if the federal agency that ensures pensions has to take over. United's pension plans are ten billion dollars in the hole, and there's talk of wage cuts, a strike, and even repossession of some of their airplanes.
A small victory for United Airlines could mean trouble for passengers in the near future.
"If they're any problems with the airline industry then there's certainly impact to my job and my livelihood," said traveler Scott Ausband.
On Tuesday, May 10, a ruling by a judge allowed the world's second largest airline to do away with their pension plans, which angered many union employees.
So much so, there have been talks circulating about a possible strike. But is it too soon for local travelers to be concerned?
"We don't want our travelers to panic. We want everyone to keep their reservations as is. We just need to wait and see how the situation progresses," said Peace Frogs Travel Agent, Rhonda Valko.
But what about those who may be thinking about air travel? Will the looming chance of a strike put a kink in their plans? According to Valko, it should not.
"Just focus on the trip that you want, ask for advice, proceed with caution, see how the week progresses," she said.
Officials at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport said even if United does go on strike, it won't really effect passengers leaving the airport going on to connecting flights. That's because CHO only has a contract with United, and there are no local union United employees at our local airport that a possible strike may effect. However, if that happens, moving on from a connecting flight to a final destination could cause some headaches for passengers--and that's a chance some are not willing to take.
"I would possibly maybe not go on a flight because of the situation," said passenger, Polly Glassie.