United Airlines posted a second-quarter profit of $1.08 billion as passenger demand for travel at the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer travel season surged.

The Chicago-based carrier said on 19 July that its profit was more than triple the $329 million it earned during the same three months of last year. For the first six months of 2023, the airline reports a $881 million profit, after last year’s $1.05 billion loss in the wake of the global Covid-19 crisis.

Revenue for the quarter that ended on 30 June rose to $14.2 billion from $12.1 billion during the same three months of 2022. For the first half year, the company posted a 30% rise in revenue, to $25.6 billion.

Domestic margins returned to 2019 levels during the second quarter, while international margins were “well above” those levels, United says. Domestic capacity, as measured in available seat miles (ASMs), jumped 10.5% year-on-year in the period, and International capacity rose 27.2%.

United’s revenue from international operations increased 44% year-on-year in the second quarter, led by the airline’s flying to the Asia-Pacific region.

United 787

Source: Bradley Caslin/Shutterstock

United Airlines posts second-quarter profit of $1.08 billion

”United’s financial performance in the second quarter and our outlook for the remainder of the year, and beyond, make it clear that United Next is working and is the right strategy at the right time,” says chief executive Scott Kirby.

The airline says in an investor update that it expects to raise capacity 16% year-on-year in the current third quarter and 18% for the full year. The airline is targeting 10-13% growth in operating revenue for 2023 over 2022.

United ended the quarter with 909 aircraft in its mainline fleet, up from 891 at the end of the first quarter. By the end of 2023, it expects to have 957 aircraft. The airline also now has 416 regional aircraft under its management, a figure expected to fall to 413 by year-end.

Earlier this week, the company said it would further increase flying across the Pacific, more than three years after it and peers drastically cut service due to international travel restrictions designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The company will introduce new service between San Francisco and Manila using Boeing 777-300ERs on 29 October – making it the first US airline to connect the mainland USA with the Philippines. Also in October, it plans to add a second daily flight between San Francisco and Taipei, and daily year-round service between Los Angeles and Tokyo’s Narita airport. The carrier already operates daily service to Tokyo’s other international airport, Haneda, from Los Angeles.

“In general, the Pacific is as strong if not stronger than the Atlantic today,” Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice-president of network planning and alliances said at the time. “People all around the world are really hungry for international travel.”

Also in recent days, United reached an agreement-in-principle with its pilots’ union. If finalised, the deal will give flight deck crew raises of up to 40% over four years. Improvements in quality of life, sick time and vacation time are also included in the package. 

United will hold an analyst call on 20 July to expand on the second-quarter earnings figures.