ACA Wants Answers from United

 - January 14, 2008, 6:33 AM

Atlantic Coast Airlines last month petitioned a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge to force United Airlines to reveal its plans for the continuation of the ACA’s United Express contract by February 28. Operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy since December 9, United could reject or maintain the terms of the current agreement. However, ACA has complained that further delay on the part of United would irreparably harm its chances of securing financing for the 47 Bombardier CRJs scheduled for delivery over the next year-and-a-half.

Judge Eugene R. Wedoff said he would rule on the petition at a February 6 hearing if the airlines do not come to terms by that time. At the same hearing, Wedoff plans to rule on whether the trustee for the airline’s employee stock-ownership plan may sell its remaining shares in the company.

United hopes to draw as much as $80 million in contract concessions from its three existing United Express partners: ACA, SkyWest and Air Wisconsin. To help its cause, it has entertained competing bids from other regional airlines. ACA, which derives 84 percent of its revenue from its United Express business and has become a central player at Chicago O’Hare, does not expect to lose its United contract, but needs a firm commitment to present to aircraft financiers to secure CRJ deliveries beyond this month.