United Airlines loses $1.4 bln in first quarter

United Airlines loses $1.4 bln in first quarter

CHICAGO - The Associated Press
United Airlines loses $1.4 bln in first quarter

United Airlines reported on April 20 that it lost $1.38 billion in the first quarter of 2022 but said it expects to return to profitability in the current three-month period as post-pandemic travel ramps back up.

The Chicago-based airline posted revenue of $7.67 billion in the quarter that ended March 31. That was down 21 percent from the first quarter of 2019.

The airline is still running fewer flights than before the pandemic. But it said it had reopened all of its lounges, resumed 19 international routes and restarted services to six cities that have not been served since the pandemic began.

Shares in United Airlines Holdings Inc. jumped almost 8 percent in after-hours trading following the earnings report.

The number of miles flown by paying passengers fell 27 percent from a year earlier. However United is flying with roughly 73 percent of its available seats full. While not as high as 81 percent of all seats before the pandemic, it is much better than it was in 2021 first quarter, when roughly half of all seats were filled with paying passengers.

The first quarter started off troubled for the airline industry, dominated in the early weeks by the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. The virus abated, and caseloads across the U.S. have been low for some time.

The airline appeared optimistic that its pandemic-related losses were behind it. United said it expects to post a profit for the second quarter and for the full year 2022. This is despite United facing higher fuel costs this quarter, paying on average $2.88 for fuel, up 40 percent from a year earlier.

“The demand environment is the strongest it’s been in my 30 years in the industry. We’re now seeing clear evidence that the second quarter will be a historic inflection point for our business,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement.