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United Airlines Posts Higher-Than-Expected Revenue After Travel Demand Rebounds

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  • United Airlines on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected revenue. United executives will discuss its results on an earnings call Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.
  • American, Southwest, Alaska and other airlines are scheduled to report results Thursday.
  • Last week Delta Air Lines warned that rising fuel prices would hurt its bottom line in the fourth quarter.

United Airlines on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected revenue as travelers returned in the summer, despite a hit from the delta variant. The airline didn't give a timeline for when it would return to profitability.

United posted net income of $473 million thanks to a boost from $1.13 billion in federal payroll aid. Its third-quarter sales totaled $7.75 billion compared with Wall Street analysts' expectations for $7.64 billion and down 32% from the same quarter in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic began. It posted a per-share adjusted loss of $1.02, better than the $1.67 analysts expected. That loss strips out the benefit of federal aid.

United shares were up more than 1.7% in postmarket trading after United reported its earnings results.

Here's how United performed in the second quarter compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted results per share: a loss of $1.02 versus an expected loss of $1.67
  • Total revenue: $7.75 billion versus expected $7.64 billion.

United said it expects its fourth-quarter capacity to be down 23% compared with 2019 and that its sales for the last three months of the year would be down 25% to 30% from the same period two years ago, when it brought in $11.38 billion. Airlines have provided comparisons to 2019 in an attempt to show where they stand compared with before the pandemic.

Chicago-based United is the second major U.S. carrier to report third-quarter earnings. Last week Delta Air Lines posted a profit but warned a surge in fuel prices would weigh on its bottom line in the last three months of the year.

United said it expects to pay an average of $2.39 a gallon for fuel in the fourth quarter, up from $2.14 in the third quarter.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines are scheduled to report results Thursday morning.

United Airlines executives will discuss results with analysts and reporters on an earnings call Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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