United CEO Jeff Smisek is encouraged by the progress the carrier has made this year, citing improved on-time performance, and a drop in the number of customer complaints. "For far too long, we've operated this company as an airline: Airlines don't make money," he said. Instead he wants employees to view United as a business. "That means constantly looking at ways to do things smarter and less expensively." Smisek added he has been encouraged by Delta, "which is doing quite well, which I'm delighted with because they're two years ahead of us," referring to the airline’s 2008 acquisition of Northwest Airlines.

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