United Airlines (UAL) reported stronger-than-expected second-quarter results, “as international long-haul and business travel accelerated even faster than anticipated" and as the average fares paid by passengers continued to increase.
"Looking ahead, the company expects continued gains as more businesses return by end of summer and into 2022, with a full recovery in demand anticipated by 2023," the Chicago carrier said in a statement.
Investors are watching the airline industry carefully. It has been recovering from the hammer blow that it took when the pandemic hit almost a year and a half ago.
Now, experts are saying that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading widely in the U.S. and elsewhere, again prompting mask requirements in some areas and raising the prospect of stricter measures.
United's net loss was $1.34 a share compared with $5.79 a share in the year-earlier quarter. The latest adjusted loss was $3.91 a share. Shares outstanding rose 15% from a year earlier to 323.6 million.
Revenue more than tripled to $5.47 billion from $1.48 billion. The year-earlier figure clearly reflected the massive impact of the pandemic.
A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates of a GAAP loss of $2.61 a share, or an adjusted loss of $4.01, on revenue of $5.34 billion.
At last check, United Airlines shares were ticked down 0.4% to $46.12 after hours. They closed regular Tuesday trading up 6.6% at $46.32. In 2021 through the close of regular trading, the stock is up 7.1%.
The airline's capacity was off 46% from the second quarter of 2019. Revenue per available seat mile was off 11% from Q2 2019.
For the 2021 third and fourth quarters United expects to post adjusted earnings before tax. A Q3 positive result on that basis would be its first since the fourth quarter of 2019.
The airline also expects third-quarter revenue per available seat mile to grow relative to the third quarter of 2019. That would be the first such positive result since Q2 2020.
Most recently, United Airlines said that it and a regional partner, Mesa Air Group (MESA) , were investing in Heart Aerospace, a Swedish company developing a 19-seat electric aircraft.
Once Heart Aerospace builds the planes, United and Mesa each has agreed to order 100 of them so long as the aircraft meet the airlines’ specifications, the paper reported.
And the Wall Street Journal reported that United and Mesa had previously said they’d invest in Archer Aviation, the Palo Alto, Calif., developer of an electric flying taxi, and to buy as many as 200 of those.