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United Airlines Turns Green With Q3 Profits

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER landing in Las Vegas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The air travel industry may finally be able to move past the pandemic crisis and have a less turbulent flight heading into the next year because despite the impact of various Covid-19 variants, major airliners have been seeing a great turn of profits for their third quarters.

United Airlines joins in on the green side, having reported a third-quarter profit of $473 million, indicating that the airline is definitely on the right track to achieving the range of long-term financial targets it had.

“The recovery was delayed by the Delta variant, but the United team remains focused on our long-term vision – and not getting sidetracked by near-term volatility – meaning we’re solidly on track to achieve the targets we set for 2022,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby in a press release.

In hindsight, the airline reported an adjusted net loss of $329 million after excluding government aid, with operating revenue of $7.8 billion, which was just down 31.9 percent from the third quarter of 2019.

As for the total capacity for the third quarter, it was down by just 28 percent when compared to the exact quarter in 2019. And as for the capacity, United’s international capacity was also down by 39.7 percent when compared to the same quarter of 2019.

Domestically, United has been doing quite well at 82.4 percent, missing out by just a bit from the domestic load factor of 86.6 percent in the third quarter of 2019.

And considering that international travel still has volatile restrictions, the international load factor stood at a relatively impressive 65.2 percent, down from the 85.4 percent from the exact quarter in 2019. This brings the consolidated passenger load factor for the third quarter of 2021 was 76.1 percent.

Thus far, the Chicago-based carrier has resumed nonstop service on 23 domestic routes and 13 international routes as compared to the previous quarter this year, with the numbers expected to positively change soon as United recently unveiled its largest transatlantic network expansion.

Bringing Back the 777s

With international travel seeing a definite comeback, United Airlines is keen on having its Boeing 777-200s returned to active service to boost international capacity.

Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, the airline’s massive fleet of 52 777-200s still remains grounded, but the airline is hopeful of having them be reinstated by next summer.

Should the anticipated returns of the 777s happen, then it would help increase United’s international capacity by about 10 percent in the next year as the fleet is planned to be flying at record levels to high-demand markets in Africa, Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East.

The long-term plan was envisioned alongside United’s optimistic expectations to sell more tickets next year than it did in 2019, as Kirby said: “From the return of business travel and the planned re-opening of Europe and early indications for opening in the Pacific, the headwinds we’ve faced are turning to tailwinds, and we believe that United is better positioned to lead the recovery than any airline in the world.”

For the Passengers

Besides the news of improved sky conditions, news on the ground has been quite well for United Airlines as well as it managed to re-open several lounge locations across its domestic network.

And besides being the first U.S airline to offer economy passengers the choice to pre-order beverages and snacks, United also managed to achieve the highest ever Net Promoter Score year-to-date, with its brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft interior receiving the highest scores in the fleet.

The airline’s signature interior boasts onboard passenger-friendly initiatives such as seatback entertainment at every screen and additional room for carry-on baggage.

Additionally, the airline has achieved the most improved mishandled bag performance amongst mainline competitors year-to-date as well, with a 38 percent improvement over 2019.

Through all its efforts of focusing heavily on the idea of premium services and achieving milestones both in the air and on the ground, United Airlines has certainly been setting itself apart from its other major U.S carriers as a strategy for the airline to attract more potential passengers to cement future success as it continues to fly.

Charlotte Seet


  • Charlotte Seet

    Fascinated by aircraft from a very young age, Charlotte’s dream was to work alongside the big birds one day. Pursuing her dream, she went on to achieve her diploma in Aviation Management and is currently working on her degree in Aviation Business in Administration with a minor in Air Traffic Management. When she’s not busy with school assignments, you can find her aircraft spotting for long hours at the airport. In Charlotte’s heart, the Queen of the Skies will always be her favorite aircraft.

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