United Airlines posts $1.8 billion net loss in pandemic slump, cuts cash burn

Business

A United Airlines airplane takes off at San Francisco International Airport.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

United Airlines on Wednesday posted a wider-than-expected third quarter loss as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer air travel demand, but the carrier trimmed its cash burn.

Here’s how United performed compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: a loss of $8.16 versus an expected loss of $7.53 per share.
  • Revenue: $2.49 billion versus $2.50 billion, expected.

The Chicago-based carrier swung to a net loss of $1.8 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, from a $1 billion profit a year ago. Revenue in the three months ended Sept. 30 dropped 78% to $2.49 billion from $11.38 billion a year ago, roughly in line with Wall Street expectations. Excluding one-time items, United posted a per-share loss of $8.16, compared with analysts’ estimates of a per-share loss of $7.53.

United cut its daily cash burn in the quarter to $25 million a day, including debt and severance payments, down from an average of $40 million a day in the previous quarter.

Airlines have struggled during the pandemic, particularly large carriers like United, Delta and American, which were heavily reliant on international and business areas, two of the hardest-hit segments.

United early this month started furloughing some 13,000 employees after the terms of federal payroll support expired. United and other carriers are pushing for additional aid but Congress and the White House have repeatedly failed to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal that could include the extra relief for carriers.

United executives will walk investors through results at 10:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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