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United Airlines Reports Fourth Quarter Net Loss of $1.9 Billion on 69% Revenue Decline to $3.4 B

The airline reported a fourth quarter net loss of $1.9 billion or ($6.39) per diluted share and a full year 2020 loss of 7.1 billion or ($26.30) per share. Quarterly revenue declined year-over-year 68.7 percent to $3.4 billion, while full year revenue declined 64.5 percent to $15.4 billion.

United Airlines Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Financial Results - Courtesy United Airlines

After markets closed on Wednesday (January 20, 2021), United Airlines reported their fourth quarter and full year 2020 financial results. For the fourth quarter, the carrier reported a net loss of $1.9 billion or ($6.39) per diluted share on a year-over-year revenue decline of 68.7 percent to $3.4 billion. For the full year 2020, United reported a net loss of $7.1 billion or ($25.30) on a 64.5 percent revenue decline to $15.4 billion. Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the company has raised over $26 billion in liquidity and has been successful at reducing their core cash burn to $19 million per day during the fourth quarter, compared to $24 million/day during Q3 and $38 million/day during Q2. During the last three quarters, United has identified $1.4 billion in annual cost savings and hopes to achieve at least $2.0 billion in structural reductions moving forward. United Airlines ended the fourth quarter with $19.7 billion in liquidity including undrawn revolving credit facilities and funds available through the loan provision under the U.S. Cares Act.

In Wednesday’s announcement, United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby, said,

“Aggressively managing the challenges of 2020 depended on our innovation and fast-paced decision making. But, the truth is that COVID-19 has changed United Airlines forever. The passion, teamwork and perseverance that the United team showed in 2020 is exactly what will help us build a new United Airlines that's better, stronger and more profitable than ever. I could not be prouder of – and more grateful to – this team, which is going to lead us there.”

United expects first quarter revenue for 2021 to be down year-over-year by approximately 65-70 percent on a 51 percent reduction in capacity. During 2020, the company completed $3.3 billion in Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate (EETC) transactions, the largest transaction of its kind in the aviation industry. United was also the first U.S. carrier to leverage their MileagePlus® loyalty program, by using it as collateral for a $6.8 billion loan. For the full year, the company also raised $968 million in net proceeds from the sale of 21.4 million shares through the at-the-market (ATM) program. During Q4, United increased cargo revenue by 77 percent by leveraging international flying and deploying strategic cargo-only flights.

In 2020, United Airlines started 43 domestic and 10 international routes and plans to launch 15 more international routes in 2021. United remains the only U.S. carrier to offer service to India and during the fourth quarter, the airline expanded service with four daily flights including the addition of O’Hare to Delhi. The company also announced plans to return service to New York-JFK after a five year absence and will offer two daily return flights to both Los Angeles and San Francisco from February 2021.

United Airlines’ shared purpose is ‘Connecting People. Uniting the World.’ Shares in the company’s parent, United Airlines Holdings, Inc., are publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol ‘UAL’. In after-hours trading on Wednesday, shares in UAL were 0.96% higher at $45.18/share (January 20, 7:59 PM EST)

Source: United Airlines


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