United Airlines third-quarter results, posts $1.8 billion net loss

United Airlines (UAL) Wednesday posted its third-quarter results which showed a wider-than-expected loss.

Here’s how the airline performed in the third quarter compared to Wall Street estimates, as compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: a loss of $8.16 per share, vs analysts’ estimate of $7.53

  • Revenue: $2.49 billion, vs analysts’ estimate of $2.50 billion

United saw a $1.8 billion net loss in the quarter that ended September 30, compared to the same period a year ago, on a $1 billion profit. The Chicago-based carrier’s revenue for the third quarter dropped 78% to $2.49 billion from $11.28 billion in the same period 2019. Analysts expected this after United cut its capacity 70% from 2019.

The airline also posted a loss of $8.16 per share, compared with Wall Street’s estimates of $7.53 per share, with the exclusion of one-time items. The airline closed the third quarter with $19.4 billion in liquidity.

Despite its loss in the third quarter, United says it is ready to “turn the page” and plan towards recovery from what it describes as the worst financial crisis the airline industry has ever seen.

Analysts expect US airlines to report about $10 billion in losses for the quarter. Delta Airlines earlier reported an operating loss of $2.1 billion, which was followed by United’s third-quarter results.

In post-market trading, shares of United were down 0.4%.

Since the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have struggled with their operations. To cut costs, many airlines furloughed and laid off thousands of workers, and cut their capacity more than 50 percent from last year.

United cut its capacity to 78% and its daily cash burn in the third quarter to $25 million per day, with the inclusion of debt and severance payments. The daily cut was down from an average of $40 million per day in the previous quarter.

United also cut its commercial unit as potential customers hardly traveled amid the pandemic. However, the airline’s cargo business remained functional and generated some profit for the company, with revenue growing 50% to $422 million.

Earlier this month, United announced that it would furlough 13,000 of its employees, a procedure it has since begun. The furloughing process began after the federal payroll support for airlines expired. United and other companies have been pushing for an additional aid that may come once the U.S. lawmakers reach an agreement over the next stimulus deal.

“Even though the negative impact of Covid-19 will persist in the near term, we are now focused on positioning the airline for a strong recovery that will allow United to bring our furloughed employees back to work and emerge as the global leader in aviation,” said United CEO Scott Kirby.

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