United Airlines still playing catch-up with Delta and American Air, but the gap persists

Premium Analysis

United Airlines has been playing catch-up with rivals since its merger with Continental Airlines eight years ago, and even with a new team in the executive suite, it arguably continues to lag its large network peers in certain areas. Its rivals American and Delta have made strides in premium product development during the past couple of years, and the results of those efforts are beginning to materialise in their revenue generation.

Both American and Delta are starting to reap benefits of their premium economy offerings available in international markets, while United is just crystallising its strategy in that product segment. United has also faced obstacles in the roll-out of the latest iteration of its first class product, Polaris.

To be fair, some of United's challenges are holdovers from days of its previous executive management, but some of the obstacles arise from attempting to correct too many issues at once, and the result is the creation of a certain level of inertia that's hard to overcome.

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