On the Call: United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek

On the Call: United Continental CEO Jeff Smisek talks about

Associated Press

The parent company of United Airlines boosted its profit by 38 percent, but some investors saw its revenue growth as anemic, and United predicted cost increases that were higher than many expected.

J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said on a conference call that he wondered whether the results met United's internal goals that it set at the beginning of the year. To Jeff Smisek, United Continental Holdings Inc.'s chairman and CEO, Baker said, "Can you review for us each of the substantive steps you've taken to get results back on track, and will these initiatives actually make up for lost ground, or simply and hopefully drive improvement from here?"

Smisek: "We've really focused this year on three things. One, we had to get our operation back on track, which we did. And it's been quite successful. We've had many initiatives to do that. We're running a competitive operation today. It's a good operation, and it's improving.

"The second piece we're focusing on was customer service, because our customer service fell away last year, there's no question about that. And we needed to get our customer service back to not only a competitive level, but a level of excellence. We've spent a lot of time with our own folks, not only in training but giving them the tools they need to make sure that we can get good customer service (and) our flights off on time. ...

"The third part has been to beat the plan. We continue to be focused on that. Are we satisfied with our financial results this quarter, year to date? Absolutely not. They do not represent what we can and will be. We have a host of activities that are going on, not only in terms of the operations and customer service. ... Our conversations with our corporate customers are very different than they were last year. Last year was a year of apology. This year it's an opportunity for us to sell our services to our important corporate customers, make sure they understand not only the power of the network, but the investments we're making in our fleet, in our product, in our technology, in our people."

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