United Airlines on Wednesday notched a key profit milestone in its pandemic recovery, but said it will scale back its growth plans through 2023.
United reported its first quarterly profit — $329 million — since the Covid-19 pandemic began without the help of federal payroll aid, which expired almost a year ago.
Unit revenues in the second quarter surged 24% over 2019 thanks to strong travel demand, even at sky-high fares, while unit costs, excluding fuel, rose 17% over the April-June period of three years ago. Fuel costs also soared.
“It’s nice to return to profitability — but we must confront three risks that could grow over the next 6-18 months,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in an earnings release. “Industry-wide operational challenges that limit the system’s capacity, record fuel prices and the increasing possibility of a global recession are each real challenges that we are already addressing.”