United Airlines (UAL) has reported third-quarter 2021 financial results. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the third quarter, the company remains confidently on track to achieve the range of longer-term financial targets laid out as part of its United Next plan earlier this summer, and to reduce CASM-ex below 2019 levels next year.
Third-quarter 2021 capacity was down 28% compared to the third quarter of 2019. Third-quarter 2021 net income was US$0.5 billion, adjusted net loss was US$0.3 billion. Total operating revenue was US$7.8 billion, down 31.9% compared to the third quarter 2019 while third quarter 2021 Total Revenue Per Available Seat Mile (TRASM) was down 5.1% compared to the third quarter 2019. Operating expenses was down 32.2%, down 20.9% excluding special charges (credits), compared to the third quarter 2019.
Citing the rebound in premium leisure travel, re-opening of European borders next month, continued recovery of business travel and early indications of loosening travel restrictions in key Pacific markets, United also announced plans to increase international capacity by 10% in 2022 – while keeping domestic capacity flat to 2019. The plan will capitalize on already improving international margins and United’s ideally situated coastal hubs that have powered the airline’s recent success in launching new routes to Africa and India. Expected flying at record levels to Europe, Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East in summer 2022, will be enabled by the anticipated return of United’s Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777s to the fleet in 2022, which – when combined with already announced approximately US$2.2 billion in structural cost reduction and planned gauge growth – will allow United to keep CASM-ex in check as it continues on the path to recovery.