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updated: 4/20/2020 9:43 AM

United sees $2.1 billion quarterly loss on plunge in sales

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  • A passenger aircraft operated by United Airlines takes off from Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany. The Chicago-based carrier said it expected to record a $2.1 billion loss in the first quarter as the global spread of the coronavirus essentially halted air travel.

    A passenger aircraft operated by United Airlines takes off from Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany. The Chicago-based carrier said it expected to record a $2.1 billion loss in the first quarter as the global spread of the coronavirus essentially halted air travel.
    Alex Kraus/Bloomberg photo

 
By Tony Robinson
Bloomberg

Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it expected to record a $2.1 billion loss in the first quarter as the global spread of the coronavirus essentially halted air travel, leading sales to plummet.

The pretax loss, a $1 billion adjusted loss, came as revenue dropped 17% from a year earlier to $8 billion, the carrier said Monday in a regulatory filing. The results are preliminary and subject to change.

United's announcement is the first for big U.S. airlines and presages a gruesome set of earnings reports after flights were curtailed worldwide. Travel at U.S. airports is about 5% of what it was a year earlier. Delta Air Lines Inc. is scheduled to release its earnings on April 22.

United expects a 90% drop in capacity next month, underscoring the likelihood of even deeper damage for major airlines as passengers continue to stay home because of the pandemic. The company said last week that travel demand had fallen to "essentially zero."