Monday 19 April 2021 9:43 pm

United Airlines dives to $2.4bn loss as fuel prices soar

United Airlines plunged to a $2.4bn adjusted loss for the first quarter of the year, dragged down by a plunge in passenger number and climbing fuel costs.

The Chicago-based carrier said that aviation fuel costs rose nearly 30 per cent over the three month period, to $1.70 per gallon.

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At the same time, the airline saw its seat capacity decline by 54 per cent on the same quarter last year.

Despite the loss, United said it was on course for a return to profit later this year.

The carrier said that it expected capacity for the next quarter to be 45 per cent down on the second quarter of 2019, in a sign of improving conditions for the aviation market.

The results come after the carrier announced new flights to Greece, Iceland, and Croatia earlier today.

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In a statement, it said: “These opportunistic steps help position United to return to positive net income even if business and long-haul international demand only returns to about 35% below 2019 levels.”

Chief executive Scott Kirby said: “The United team has now spent a year facing down the most disruptive crisis our industry has ever faced and because of their skill and dedication to our customers, we’re poised to emerge from this pandemic with a future that is brighter than ever.

“We’ve shifted our focus to the next milestone on the horizon and now see a clear path to profitability.

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“We’re encouraged by the strong evidence of pent-up demand for air travel and our continued ability to nimbly match it, which is why we’re as confident as ever that we’ll hit our goal to exceed 2019 adjusted EBITDA margins in 2023, if not sooner.”