United Airlines posts net loss but forecasts profit for second quarter

United reported a loss for the first three months of the year but forecast a profit for the second quarter.

United Airlines posts net loss but forecasts profit for second quarter

View of a United Airlines aircraft at the Barcelona Airport, Barcelona, Spain on February 27, 2023.

Nurphoto - Getty Images

United Airlines has reported a loss in the first quarter of the year, but is forecasting a profit in the second quarter when the summer travel season begins.

United and Delta Air Lines both reported strong demand for travel in the spring, summer and fall despite predictions of an economic slowdown. United Airlines expects to earn adjusted earnings per share between $3.50 and $4, with revenues rising 14% to 15% from last year. Capacity is up 18.5%.

Here is how United did in the first quarter, compared to what Wall Street was expecting, based on Refinitiv's average estimates:

United's revenue for the three-month period ended March 31 was $11.43 Billion, which is more than 51% higher than the same time last year. United reported a net loss $194 million or 59 cents per share compared to a $1.4 billion loss or $4.24 loss per share in the first quarter last year.

United's per-share loss was 63 cents after adjusting for one-time expenses. This is a smaller loss than the analysts polled at Refinitv, who were expecting a loss of around 73 cents. However, this loss falls within the previously stated range between a 60-cent loss and a $1 loss.

Revenue per available seat-mile, which measures how much money the airlines make compared to how many miles they fly, increased by more than 22 percent from a year earlier.

Fuel was removed from the equation and unit costs fell by 0.1%. Jet fuel costs $3.33 per gallon, up from $2.88 in the first quarter 2022.

United executives will be available to discuss the results on Wednesday, at 10:30 am with analysts and journalists.

During the second and third quarters when airlines generate the majority of their revenue, executives are likely to be asked about growth restrictions.

United and other airlines plan to reduce flights to the New York region in the next few months due to a lack of air traffic control. However, carriers will use larger aircraft where possible.