United Airlines (UAL) today announced fourth quarter and full year 2021 financial results and reiterated confidence in its longer term United Next financial targets. The company achieved every major financial guidance target for the fourth quarter – and set a new Net Promoter Score (NPS) record in 2021 – despite the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant. Despite near term volatility, bookings for spring travel and beyond remain strong, which is why the Omicron spike has not altered the airline’s confidence in the 2023 and 2026 CASM-ex United Next targets announced last year.
The airline starts 2022 with a scaled-back schedule, reflecting the impact of the Omicron spike on demand. However, as the year progresses, United expects to nimbly ramp up capacity by ungrounding 52 Pratt & Whitney-powered Boeing 777s, as demand returns, which will yield improvements in the airline’s gauge and aircraft utilization. The airline expects this approach, which continues to prioritize matching capacity to demand, means: 1) the airline will fly fewer available seat miles (ASMs) in 2022 than 2019 and 2) CASM-ex will decline significantly over the course of 2022. Most importantly, these 2022 trends will lay the groundwork for successful execution of the multi-year United Next strategy and achievement of the financial targets set for 2023 and beyond.
“The United team has been fighting through unprecedented obstacles to, once again, overcome the new and daunting challenges that COVID-19 is bringing to aviation, and I am grateful to each one of them for their commitment to taking care of our customers,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. “While Omicron is impacting near term demand, we remain optimistic about the spring and excited about the summer and beyond. We look forward to beginning to return the Pratt & Whitney 777s to service this quarter and getting the full airline back to normal utilization — as we ramp up along with demand this year. By investing in innovative technology, focusing on process improvements and implementing a transformative United Next strategy, we’re poised to emerge as an aviation leader that’s more efficient than before and serves our customers better than ever.”
Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 capacity down 23% compared to fourth quarter 2019.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 net loss of $0.6 billion, adjusted net loss of $0.5 billion.
- Reported full year 2021 net loss of $2.0 billion, adjusted net loss of $4.5 billion.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 total operating revenue of $8.2 billion, down 25% compared to fourth quarter 2019.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 Total Revenue Per Available Seat Mile (TRASM) of down 3% compared to fourth quarter 2019.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 Cost Per Available Seat Mile (CASM) of up 11%, and CASM-ex of up 13%, compared to fourth quarter 2019.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 fuel price of approximately $2.41 per gallon.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 pre-tax margin of negative 10.3%, negative 8.3% on an adjusted basis.
- Reported fourth quarter 2021 ending available liquidity of $20 billion.