United Airlines Posts Better-Than-Expected Results

United Airlines Holdings reported "the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history," swinging to a $1.63 billion second-quarter loss.
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United Airlines Holdings  (UAL) - Get Report reported "the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history," swinging to a $1.63 billion second-quarter loss from a year-earlier profit on 87% lower revenue.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago carrier posted a loss of $5.79 a share, compared with profit of $1.05 billion, or $4.02 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue slumped to $1.48 billion from $11.4 billion.

The earnings and revenue were better than analysts expected. A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates for the quarter of a loss of $7.39 a share on revenue of $1.32 billion.

At July 20 United Airlines said it had about $15.2 billion of available cash and expected that figure to grow to $18 billion by the end of the third quarter.

Chief Executive Scott Kirby said United Airlines minimized its losses by "accurately forecasting the impact that covid would have on passenger and cargo demand, accurately matching our schedule to that reduced demand, completing the largest debt financing deal in aviation history, and cutting expenses across our business."

The entire travel industry worldwide has been decimated by the economic shutdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

And United expects travel demand to remain depressed until a vaccine or treatment for covid-19 is developed and available.

Two weeks ago United Airlines warned that it might have to cut 36,000, or 45%, of its jobs as it struggles with the impact of the pandemic shut down, Reuters had reported.

The effective date of the job cuts would be Oct. 1. That's when a ban on forced job cuts by airlines, including United, that accepted $25 billion of federal payroll aid expires.

American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Report and Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Report have also warned of possible job losses.

United recently reached a labor accord with the Air Line Pilots Association. The pact includes an early-retirement deal for pilots 62 and older, Reuters reported. 

And it includes several options for pilots to voluntarily reduce their hours or take leaves of absence, during which they would potentially receive health benefits as long as they keep up their training, covered by United.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that major unions representing pilots, flight attendants and mechanics are calling on Congress to extend that federal payroll aid for six months beyond Oct. 1.

The unions are calling on Congress to allocate another $32 billion to passenger airlines, cargo carriers and aviation contractors, the Journal reported.

Among efforts the airline has made to protect passengers, United Airlines on Monday said it would take additional steps to purify the air on its planes.

United Airlines shares at last check were trading at $33.21, up 0.4%. They closed the regular session on Tuesday up 2.3% at $33.07. In 2020 through the regular session, the stock was down 62%.