United Airlines reaps $942 million profit on strong summer

Oct 18, 2022, 1:30 AM | Updated: 2:45 pm
FILE - A United Airlines jetliner takes off from a runway at Denver International Airport Tuesday, ...

FILE - A United Airlines jetliner takes off from a runway at Denver International Airport Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Denver. Airlines say travelers are still booking trips despite uncertainty over inflation and the economy. That’s boosting the bottom line at United Airlines, which looks for a big summer of international travel next year. The company's third-quarter earnings are reported today. AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

United Airlines earned $942 million in the third quarter as vacationers paid higher fares and packed planes over the summer, and the airline offered an upbeat forecast of late-year earnings.

United’s CEO said Tuesday that concern about inflation and the economy does not seem to be discouraging people from buying airline tickets. He said that is partly because people who work part of the week from home have more flexibility to take short trips.

The Chicago-based airline said adjusted earnings were $2.81 per share, compared with a forecast of $2.28 among analysts in a FactSet survey.

United forecast that fourth-quarter earnings will be between $2 and $2.25 per share, well above a FactSet forecast of 98 cents per share.

Third-quarter revenue rose to $12.88 billion, topping analysts’ target of $12.74 billion.

The airline’s shares rose 7% in extended trading after the results and fourth-quarter outlook were released.

U.S. air travel has bounced back from the onset of the pandemic. Nearly 2.5 million travelers went through airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the biggest travel day since February 2020, according to Transportation Security Administration figures. Fares are higher than they were before the pandemic, resulting in airline revenue exceeding 2019 levels on a per-mile basis.

CEO Scott Kirby said he is optimistic United will see strong financial results in the fourth quarter and beyond despite growing concern about an economic slowdown. He credited a change in travel habits, particularly among office workers who can now work from home at least part of the week.

“When you were tethered to your desk and had to be there Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, you couldn’t get away for a weekend,” Kirby said during an event at The Washington Post. “Now you can leave on Wednesday or Thursday or come back on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and work remotely for one or two days.”

As a result, he said, midweek flights grew notably more crowded in September.

The United report came a week after Delta Air Lines posted a $695 million third-quarter profit and also gave a rosy forecast for the holidays and the fourth quarter.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said at the time that the airline industry is enjoying a “countercyclical” recovery because consumers still have money, and they are spending more on services and less on goods.

Delta executives said bookings by business customers — a key, lucrative group for airlines — picked up after Labor Day, and they are confident corporate travel will fully recover, even with Zoom calls replacing some in-person meetings.

Businesses cut travel budgets sharply when the pandemic hit. Most have eased some restrictions on employee travel. Still, there is enough concern about long-term trends — including pressure to reduce flying to limit climate-changing emissions — that the U.S. Travel Association is pushing tax breaks to encourage business-travel spending.

Like business trips, international travel also has lagged the overall recovery, but United felt confident enough about 2023 to announce last week that it will increase transatlantic flights next summer.

While airlines are seeing a surge in revenue, they also face higher costs. The price of jet fuel is far above pre-pandemic levels, and pilots and other employees are pushing for higher pay in the largely unionized industry.

“Inflationary cost pressures are not going away,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker said in a note to clients. “Salaries are going up through hourly pay increases and bonuses, and once that genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to put it back in.”

Executives of United Airlines Holdings Inc. are scheduled to discuss the quarter and their outlook on a call with analysts Wednesday.

American Airlines, which raised its third-quarter revenue forecast last week, is scheduled to issue results Thursday. Southwest will wrap up reports from the big four of the U.S. airline industry next week.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

Victims’ families urge love, kindness as Idaho campus mourns

As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future.
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Tesla delivers electric semis to PepsiCo at Nevada factory

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo Thursday, more than three years after Elon Musk said his company would start making the trucks. The Austin, Texas, company formally delivered the trucks at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed on Twitter, which Musk now owns. Musk drove one of […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Policemen pin down and detain a protester during a protest on a street in Shanghai, China on...
Associated Press

China security apparatus well honed to deal with protests

BEIJING (AP) — When it comes to ensuring the security of their regime, China’s Communist Party rulers don’t skimp. The extent of that lavish spending was put on display when the boldest street protests in decades broke out in Beijing and other cities, driven by anger over rigid and seemingly unending restrictions to combat COVID-19. […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

EPA proposes restrictions to block proposed Alaska mine

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed restrictions that would block plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region that is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. A statement from the regional EPA office said discharges of dredged or fill material into the waters […]
19 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Ea...
Associated Press

Biden to Dems: Scrap caucuses, promote diversity in primary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that Democrats should give up “restrictive” caucuses and move to champion diversity in the order of their presidential primary calendar, dealing a major blow to Iowa’s decadeslong status as the first voting state. In a letter to the rule-making arm of the Democratic National Committee, Biden does […]
19 hours ago
Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann leaves the ACT Supreme Court in Canberra, on Oct. 27, 2...
Associated Press

Prosecutor drops Australian Parliament House rape charge

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A prosecutor said Friday he had dropped a rape charge against a former government adviser because of the life-threatening trauma a trial would cause the woman allegedly assaulted in a Parliament House office. Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleges a more senior colleague, Bruce Lehrmann, 27, raped her in a minister’s […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
United Airlines reaps $942 million profit on strong summer