New VPs, Subsidiary for United Airlines

New United Express Livery by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner, on Flickr via CC-SA 2.0
New United Express Livery by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner, on Flickr via CC-SA 2.0

United is not going quietly into the weekend; the carrier shared news internally this afternoon of new executive appointments – and creation of new roles – as well as formation of a new subsidiary.

Perhaps most significant is the changes for United Express handling. That operation has been a challenge for the company and to try to bring some stability to it United has hired Brad Rich, formerly President of SkyWest, to be SVP United Express. Furthermore, a new ground handling services group will be established to provide services to United and other carriers. This effort will be run by Lynda Coffman who now assumes the title of VP Ground Services. Coffman previously served in the role of VP Food Services for the airline.

New United Express Livery by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner, on Flickr via CC-SA 2.0
New United Express Livery by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner, on Flickr via CC-SA 2.0

Building its own ground services groups lets United essentially “outsource” to itself in some stations while also allowing it to bid to work for other airlines. While it could also bid those same jobs today the new operation will likely allow it to do so at a lower pay-scale. Delta Ground Services provides a similar operation for that carrier while American handles similar functions via its Eagle Ground Handling, part of its Envoy (f/k/a American Eagle) subsidiary.

Read MoreIt was only a matter of time before United outsourced more

The new SVP-Customers has been named as Sandra Pineau-Boddison. Pineau-Boddison previously worked as SVP-United Express. This role covers Customer Experience, Contact Centers and Food services. Her background running both contact centers and food services previously should make this a smooth transition. That said, the position appears to be a new one in the company so making that work smoothly may be easier said than done.

The company also named a Vice President – Operations Engagement and Leadership, a role which I do not believe existed prior to this announcement. Filling to job will be Donna Towle, formerly VP-Employee Relations.

Definitely some shake-up going on at Willis Tower. How the changes trickle down to customer impact remains to be seen, of course. Pushing the ground handling out of the regular employee realm means lower costs and potentially other changes to the way operations are handled. Historically such efforts have been challenging initially, though in many cases they do get better over time as the ground services groups learn the details of the companies they serve. Consolidating customer experience into a SVP role potentially has an upside for a better and more consistent experience, or it could just be shuffling things around. I still think the most significant potential for change comes with Brad Rich and the United Express operation. It definitely needs some work both for consistency and reliability.

United has confirmed the new roles and subsidiary creation.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Yay, now hiring, United Express ground handlers – 7.75/hour starting, just like Delta Ground Services!
    I would support United building a group where they bid on other airline contracts as long as they had a decent pay scale, etc.
    Otherwise, they are just going to be in the stinky heap of poor paying, poor quality, and poor service ground handling companies.

  2. The real headline should be United reaps record profit yet chooses greed over good employee relations. Creation of a separate low wage ground handling subsidiary is a thinky veiled union busting ploy designed to bypass negotiated labor agreements with its professional workforce, and the plan further accelerates the race to the bottom in quality customer service at what once was a world class airline.

  3. HELLO how do i sign up to work for subsidiary for united airlines please let me know. i would love to apply for it. thank you so much.

  4. Ok So hiring contract company employees at $8/hr with no benefits is gonna help the company? Some of these guys that are with United have been with the company for over 20 years and have gotten decent pay with benefits! Now many of them will have to find new work in order to support themselves or families if they have one! The airline industry is turning into a walmart, and yet those guys will get paid better!

  5. Welcome to the transition scenerio from Continental to Continental Express. Sad thing is you will all end up like me after 20 years, loving what I do and only making $13/hr at top out, no benefits except flight privileges and still loving the job …

  6. It seems it’s ok that someone else either gets replaced or their jobs outsourced as long as it isn’t me. Pretty pathetic. Record profits and where do they go? Beware, someday your company may be coming after your job.

    1. The race to the bottom is off and running in the airline industry. As long as there are workers willing to cross a picket line, willing to take the jobs of other workers for less pay, and willing to be exploited and used by corporate execs who are paid millions of dollars in bonuses for reducing worker wages and benefits, then all of the good jobs with livable wages and benefits to help support a family will eventually be WalMartized down to subsistance level. And subsistance level wages appears to be the goal of airline corporate management for all ground employees in the future.

      1. Who is crossing a picket line here? Remember that the Union negotiated the contract which only protected certain stations from outsourcing. Only blaming management for that seems to miss the part where the Union leaders agreed to it and the majority of the members ratified it.

        I do agree that executive payouts and bonuses are irrational in the market, but there are two sides to the story.

      2. Seth is right…. I work at UA…. I told everyone of my co-workers… read the contract. Don’t bother with the Union bulltet points… Everything the company has been doing is lock step with the Union. I have watched the Union put up little to NO resistance to the changes the company has put forth. Read the first page of the contract… UA will do whatever it needs to do to stay in bussiness, which includes replacing workers if money issues arise. Basicly any language about job security is just that langguage… the compay will do what it takes to stay in the black.

        Everyone was listening to the Union praise the contract and the raise we would get. But some of us where warning others that the contract did not protect out stations form being replaced. Plus, sCO agents were not protected because of no merger senioty list. Plus, with a contract that defines all the rules to the “T”, leaves no protection from managment for inforcing rules and putting forth new ones that profit the company.

        Who cares about more money… we are lossing everything else… so stop with the Union busting non-sense… read the worthless contract, the company dosen’t have to bust the Union, the employees that fell for the “union will protect you” non-sense did to themselves. The company will get what it wants, and the Union will get thier dues money… nothing else matters.

  7. Will this new group replace Simplicity in DEN or are they part of the new company?

    1. The group doesn’t really exist yet in a manner where it can replace anyone. As for where it shows up eventually, again, remains to be seen. It is not the same company/people as Simplicity but could potentially replace that operation at some point.

  8. Seth it’s so stupid United is doing this now after years of putting up with an 85% turnover rate, illegals, and felons that DGS, Eagle as well as all the other subsidiaries. In the market. The major airlines are on the hook the first time the aviation industry is hit with terrorism. They’ve been told and notified. No clauses in contracts will the airline be able to claim because of gross negligence on their part.low income aviation jobs harbor Isis terrorist ( the Two that worked for DGS up in DTW OR MSP) who were working with and around us which they’re both dead now for being mercinairies blowing themselves up in the name of Terrisom . Our politicians and major Airlines know all this . Delta and American are now insourcing. more because of all the negative affects of passing the buck to the subsidiaries that they somehow think relieves them from any responsibility and are owned by the major airlines? Who needs to contribute to retirement. This is the mother load of being instant lottery winners . It will happen and when it does. Those mainline workers and or their spouses will be there in the courtrooms giving witness of negligence by the major Airlines.

    1. DL & AA still have plenty of stations outsourced and there is no exclusivity of “bad apples” at outsourced stations. There are plenty of arguments to be made about this issue but I don’t think the anti-terrorism one carries very well.

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