United Arlines vows to be on time
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- Even though United Airlines has canceled almost 2,000 flights this month, the airline is promising to get U.S. athletes and their equipment to the Olympics on time.
Members of the Olympic team plan to fly on United's regularly scheduled daily flight from Los Angeles to Sydney for the 2000 Summer Games, which start Sept. 15.
United has been the official airline for the U.S. Olympic team since 1984. But bad weather and pilots refusing to work overtime have been causing increased delays and cancellations this summer.
However, the majority of September's canceled flights are domestic ones, and no flights to Sydney have been canceled, United spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said.
If Olympic athletes have problems with cancellations or delays on their way there, the United office at the Olympic Training Center can work to get them on other flights, Ebenhoch said.
U.S. Olympic Committee president Bill Hybl said United vice president Roger Gibson has assured him that the Olympic team's flights will not be impeded.
"Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be delays for weather, but United Airlines has given us their commitment they will get the team to Sydney on a timely basis," Hybl said.
Many U.S. Olympians have already run into problems flying United to Olympic trials and other competitions.
While most of the top swimmers competing in the Olympic trials in Indianapolis this week planned to arrive early, several arrived late or had to find a new way of getting to the competition.
The flight of Brooke Bennett, who won the 800-meter freestyle at the 1996 Olympics, was delayed and she missed a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Swimmers stuck in Chicago, United's main hub, rented cars and drove 31/2 hours to Indianapolis. Speedo representatives did the same thing to get cartons of their new "shark suits" to the trials on time.
Also on Tuesday, the 12 members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team spent about 90 minutes in the Denver airport after one of their connecting flights to New York City from Colorado Springs was canceled. Their re-scheduled flight, a direct one from from Denver to New York, was delayed.
However, the team arrived only an hour late for interviews with the New York media.
"Our Olympic people (with United) really helped us out," said Shilpa Bakre, director of media relations for USA Boxing. "But I think it's going to be a matter of us anticipating problems and getting our people at the United desk to jump on them right away."