1:30 PM

Ouch, this hurts.

UAL Corp. – parent of United Airlines – has posted an unbelievable $17 BILLION loss in fourth quarter 2005, blaming reorganization expenses and skyrocketing fuel prices. The No. 2 U.S. airline, which is set to emerge from bankruptcy next month, said the $145 per share net loss compared with a loss of $741 million, or $6 per share a year earlier.

One consultant quoted in this Rueters/Yahoo article says a $17 billion loss "is meaningless because it involves all sorts of accounting issues." The suits at United are claiming likewise, that this mega-loss does not truly represent the financial health of their airline:

Excluding the charge, UAL said its operating loss was $182 million compared with $570 million in the same quarter last year. Total revenue for UAL increased by 10 percent, to $4.4 billion.
Hey, look, the suits can spin this any way they choose, but someone lost $17B, that we do know.

What is it going to take for someone to grow the balls needed to confront Big Oil about price fixing? Will it take Jet A climbing to $12 a gallon? Will ALL the airlines have to go the way of Pan Am?

I hope our leaders can remember that while they have sold our country's very soul to China and Wal•Mart, commercial airline service is one thing that cannot be outsourced.

I hope.

UPDATE FRI 27 JAN: I wonder if this has anything to do with the $17B loss over at UAL:
Chevron Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit climbed 20 percent to $4.14 billion, a company record that continued the most prosperous stretch in the oil company's 126-year history as it capitalizes on high fuel prices that are squeezing consumers and ruffling politicians. Its profit of $14.1 billion for the full year was also a company record.
Gee, ya' think?

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