United Reports $1.6 Billion Second-Quarter Loss

Such is the new world of the coronavirus pandemic that a company can have record-setting losses yet somehow beat analysts’ expectations.

United Airlines on Wednesday said it suffered through “the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history,” reporting a $1.63 billion loss in the second quarter—87 percent less revenue than it earned in the same period last year when it posted a $1.05 billion profit.

The devastating earnings report was actually less than predicted by analysts, who forecast a loss of $7.39 a share. United posted a loss of $5.79 a share.

The Chicago-based carrier has been able to slow its cash burn from $100 million a day to $40 million a day since March.

“We expect United produced fewer losses and lower cash burn in the second quarter than any of our large network competitors,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “We accomplished this by quickly and accurately forecasting the impact that COVID would have on passenger and cargo demand, accurately matching our schedule to that reduced demand, completing the largest debt financing deal in aviation history, and cutting expenses across our business.”

United Airlines said it currently has just over $15 billion of available cash and expects that to grow to $18 billion by the end of the third quarter in September.

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