Thursday, August 7, 2008

Still Chasing the Dream

As we rolled out on runway 25L at Los Angeles, I saw for the first time the new Airbus 380, the world’s biggest plane. There it sat, sporting the colors of the United Arab Emirates. Those are some of the guys, you may recall, who delight in the gas prices we’re paying. It was on a demonstration tour of the U.S. I read in the next day’s paper that it took selected guests on local hops and served them Champaign and caviar. Wonder why I didn’t get an invitation; surely I buy a piece of it every time I fill up my truck.

Along with the sight of the big plane comes big concerns and big fears among us. The mood around the airline is somber. Fuel costs are driving us toward another precipice overlooking the dark abyss of bankruptcy. In the midst of this gloom the labor/management wars are breaking out anew, each side pointing at the other with accusations of ruthlessness, wastefulness, and a lack of vision.

I see both sides of the conflict. It’s folly to think that pilots know better how to run a major corporation, and in the corporation I see an absence of inspirational leadership.

When we emerged from the smoking crater of bankruptcy with enormous chunks of our paychecks cut away and our pensions trashed, our CEO could have shared some of the pain. He had his chance to lead, inspire and motivate by refusing or delaying his $38 million dollar bonus and declaring that as long as United workers had to sacrifice, then so would he. He took the cash.
I try to keep such thoughts stowed when I fly but when I pulled into the gate at Los Angeles and saw this sign I let out a cynical chuckle. Appreciated? That sign must have been put up in happier times, probably back when the much revered Pat Patterson ran United.  

I vowed when I started this blog never to bring company politics into it and now I have sinned. But I guess you might want to know what’s going through our heads these days as we plow the skyscapes.

A sight like this one below pops me back to why I’m here. It looks at first as if we are following another jet ahead and lower. It’s actually the shadow of our own contrails projected ahead of us onto the clouds from a low sun behind us. Our shadow races ahead of us shouting, “Beat you to Dulles!” As the sun gets lower the shadow seems to be winning the race, but then we enter the terminator and, like my confidence in our corporate and union leadership, it fades.
Our CEO’s millions can never buy him this sight.

1 comment:

bradcockrell said...

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