CHICAGO, July 20 (Reuters) - United Airlines
reported its sixth consecutive quarterly loss on Tuesday due to
the coronavirus pandemic, though revenue quadrupled from a year
ago and topped estimates with a strong domestic travel rebound.
U.S. leisure travel has nearly recovered to pre-pandemic
levels as more people fly for vacation or to visit friends and
family following a massive nationwide vaccination campaign.
Chicago-based United said it will continue ramping up flying
in the third quarter and forecast its total unit revenue -
comparing sales to flight capacity - for the period will be
higher than the same quarter in 2019, a turning point for the
The company said business and long-haul international
travel, to which it is more exposed than rivals, accelerated
faster than anticipated, and it expects a full recovery in
demand by 2023.
United's adjusted net loss narrowed to $1.26 billion, or
$3.91 per share, in the quarter, from $2.6 billion, or $9.31 per
share, a year ago. Analysts had estimated a loss of $3.94,
according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding items, the company lost $434 million in the second
quarter. United has said it expects to be profitable in the
third and fourth quarter.
United's second-quarter adjusted operating revenue rose to
$5.47 billion from about $1.47 billion a year ago, above
analysts' average estimate of $5.35 billion.
U.S. airlines have played down concerns over the impact of a
resurgence in COVID-19, spurred by the more contagious Delta
variant of the coronavirus, which has become dominant in the
United States and many other nations.
United's quarterly revenue was just half of the roughly $10
billion it booked in the same quarter of 2019 before the
pandemic jolted the travel industry.
Its shares slipped 0.5% to $46.08 in extended trading after
the U.S. airline index had its largest daily percentage
gain on Tuesday since November.
As demand returns, U.S. airlines - which benefited from $54
billion in federal COVID-19 aid for workers' salaries - have
rushed to restore their operations.
United last month unveiled its largest-ever aircraft order
for 270 jets in a push to boost its domestic capacity by almost
30% and better compete for both premium and low-cost travel.
It has also announced a string of investments related to
sustainability and innovation as airlines face renewed scrutiny
over their environmental impact.
Rival Delta Air Lines last week reported a quarterly
profit. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines
are due to report on Thursday.
United will discuss the results with analysts and investors
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting by Rodrigo
Editing by Bill Berkrot)