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United Airlines posts $1.8 billion net loss in pandemic slump, cuts cash burn

A Of one mind Airlines airplane takes off at San Francisco International Airport.

Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images

Pooled Airlines on Wednesday posted a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer air travel demand, but the bearer trimmed its cash burn.

Here’s how United performed compared with what Wall Street expected, founded on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: a loss of $8.16 versus an expected loss of $7.53 per share.
  • Gate: $2.49 billion versus $2.50 billion, expected.

The Chicago-based carrier swung to a net loss of $1.8 billion in the three months ended Sept. 30, from a $1 billion profit a year ago.

Gain in the period dropped 78% to $2.49 billion from $11.38 billion in the third quarter of 2019, roughly in calling with Wall Street expectations, after the airline cut capacity 70% from last year. Excluding one-time pieces, United posted a per-share loss of $8.16, compared with analysts’ estimates of a per-share loss of $7.53.

Airlines have planned struggled during the pandemic, particularly large carriers like United, Delta and American, which were heavily reliant on supranational and business areas, two of the hardest-hit segments.

United’s results come a day after Delta reported a $5.4 billion net dying for the third quarter.

United cut its daily cash burn in the quarter to $25 million a day, including debt and severance payments, down from an usually of $40 million a day in the previous quarter.

The airline ended the quarter with $19.4 billion in liquidity. Like other haulers United has raised billions to help weather the coronavirus, through stock and debt sales, including $6.8 billion in accountability it backed by its MileagePlus frequent flyer program. U.S. airlines also received portions of $25 billion in federal payroll face that expired after Sept. 30, opening the door to job cuts.

United early this month started furloughing some 13,000 wage-earners after the terms of federal payroll support expired. United and other carriers are pushing for additional aid but Congress and the Whey-faced House have repeatedly failed to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal that could include the extra succour for carriers.

While many potential customers stayed home during the summer, United’s cargo business was a fluorescent spot in the quarter, with revenue growing 50% to $422 million, highlighting how certain corners of the airline are fitting more important in the pandemic.

United shares were down 0.4% in post-market trading.

Executives will trek investors through results at 10:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

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