Wing and a Prayer

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 13, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Joining me now is the man who used to head up the largest employee-owned company in the world, UAL, the parent company of United Airlines, facing bankruptcy right now.

Gerald Greenwald joins me on the phone now from Aspen, Colorado.

Mr. Greenwald, how bad is this getting for your old industry?

GERALD GREENWALD, FORMER CEO, UAL: It’s pretty ugly, Neil. You know, we’ve watched the steel industry shrink. Almost every one of the companies have gone through bankruptcy. We can’t let that happen in the airline industry, because it’s a necessity. I mean, some people would argue with me even with the steel industry, but at least you could import steel. You can’t import a flight from New York to Chicago.

CAVUTO: Smaller carriers are thought to ideally fill the gap. Do you not buy that?

GREENWALD: I don’t buy that, Neil. To some extent they will. I mean, I do think they’re going to grow and grow rapidly. But the way I think of it — these aren’t precise numbers — but take the top 15 cities of America, they take probably 75-80 percent of all the passengers that fly in America. Take places like Chicago, O’Hare: 900 to 1,000 flights a day. We’re going to need hubs. We can’t do all of the flying point to point. There’s not enough air or landing space.

CAVUTO: Very quickly, Gerald, in the few seconds we have here. Do you think that a lot of Americans in a lot of small cities are just not going to have airlines period?

GREENWALD: I don’t think that’s the case. I think, in fact, the curious aspect here is that smaller cities are probably in least danger. People say, well, U.S. Airways, for example, may cut back on some of the flights to cities that they’re the only ones flying to. I would guess those will get filled in by somebody.

CAVUTO: OK. Gerald Greenwald, thank you for your help. We appreciate it, my friend.

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