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United Airlines reports profit but sees higher recession risk

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United Airlines confirmed it expects full-year profits in 2022, but said overall capacity will lag that of the pre-pandemic 2019./AFP
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Jul 21, 2022 - 07:34 AM

NEW YORK — United Airlines reported a profitable second quarter Wednesday as strong travel demand boosted revenues, but signaled plans to rein in plane capacity as carriers confront operational challenges and recession worries.

The big US carrier said revenues “improved at a rapid pace” during the quarter and that it expects full-year profitability in light of still-strong demand.

But United said it expects full-year capacity in 2022 to be 13 percent below the 2019 level. It plans 2023 capacity growth of “no more than eight percent” from the 2019 level.

Chief Executive Scott Kirby cited the chance of a global recession as one of three major question marks facing the industry as the company reported quarterly profits of $329 million compared with a loss of $434 million in the year-ago period.

Revenues were $12.1 billion, more than twice that of the 2021 period and 6.2 percent above the 2019 level.

“It’s nice to return to profitability,” Kirby said. “But we must confront three risks that could grow over the next 6-18 months.

“Industry-wide operational challenges that limit the system’s capacity, record fuel prices and the increasing possibility of a global recession are each real challenges that we are already addressing.”

Shares fell 6.8 percent to $38.84 in after-hours trading.

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