United Airlines posted a third-quarter profit of $ 473 million thanks to more than $ 1 billion in federal pandemic assistance that helped pay airline workers this summer.
Pleasure travelers have refueled planes during the holiday season, but by the end of the summer bookings declined as the delta variant led to an increase in COVID-19 cases and a hoped-for rally in travel business collapsed.
Chicago-based United said on Tuesday that fourth-quarter revenue would be 25-30% lower than the same period of 2019, as the airline operates fewer flights than before the pandemic. Costs will increase per seat.
Nonetheless, the company insisted that depressed areas of its business would recover and that it would meet its long-term financial goals.
Normally United derives a large chunk of their income from business and international travel, but both remain gravely depressed. United and its closest rivals American and Delta are hoping to get a boost with the reopening of new offices and the U.S. government’s decision to ease restrictions on vaccinated travelers from overseas on November 8.
United announced last week that it would expand its transatlantic service next year, including adding destinations it has never served in Jordan, Norway and the island outposts of Spain and Portugal. United is pressing foreign governments to resume seven routes to Europe and Asia that were suspended during the pandemic.
Domestic leisure travel has returned to roughly pre-pandemic levels. That prompted United to announce this month that it is planning its biggest domestic flight schedule since March 2020 to meet what it expects to be an increase in holiday travel.
For the third quarter, United reported a profit of $ 473 million, compared to a loss of $ 1.84 billion last year and a profit of $ 1.02 billion in the third quarter of 2019.
United said that excluding special items such as federal aid, it would have lost $ 329 million, or $ 1.02 per share. It was better than analysts expected – a loss of $ 1.58 per share, according to a FactSet poll.
Revenue was $ 7.75 billion, about $ 110 million more than analysts expected, but 32% lower than the same period in 2019.
Last week, Delta Air Lines reported third-quarter profit of $ 1.2 billion, but warned that rising fuel prices and labor costs would lead to a “modest” loss in the fourth quarter. trimester.
United expects fuel prices to rise 12% from the third to the fourth quarter. He said other spending would rise 12% to 14% per seat in the fourth quarter, about double the increase Delta predicted. In a press release from the company, CEO Scott Kirby said United were confident of bringing the cost below 2019 levels by 2022.
Labor costs are rising as airlines scramble to hire more pilots, flight attendants and other workers in a reversal last year, when carriers were bleeding blood. money and encouraged employees to quit.
United officials declined to comment on the report until they held a conference call with analysts and reporters on Wednesday.
Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc. rose 2% after more than an extended hour of trading after the financial report was released. They ended the regular session down 2%, to $ 46.22.
David Koenig can be contacted at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter