United Airlines reported a net loss of $1.964 billion in 2021. This was on a revenue basis of $24.6 billion and an operating expense basis of $25.6 billion. This compares to a net loss of $7.1 billion in 2020 and $3 billion in 2019.
United Airlines reported a net loss of $646 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a net profit of $641 million in the fourth quarter of last year. In 2021, operations revenue totaled $8.2 billion, and operating expenses totaled $8.6 billion. United concluded 2021 with a total of $20 billion in available money.
Additionally, it reported a 3% decline in total revenue per available seat mile in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Cost per available seat mile, excluding gasoline, increased 13% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Both of these are commonly used unit revenue and unit cost indicators.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby expressed the following about the results:
Examining the results
While passenger revenue remains United Airlines' principal source of income, cargo has been a lifeline throughout the crisis. United recorded $727 million in cargo revenue in the fourth quarter, an increase of more than 130 percent over the same period last year. United's $2.35 billion in cargo revenue for the entire year was up more than 99 percent from the previous year.
Domestic travel accounted for roughly $5 billion of United's $6.9 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter. United's next most profitable geography was the transatlantic market, which made $937 million, followed by Latin America, which earned $788 million. The Pacific region fared the worst, with only $182 million coming from this region.
United's overall capacity decreased by 22.8 percent in the third quarter, and domestic sales were down 13.9%. Capacity on the transatlantic route was down 23.6 percent, while capacity on the transpacific route was 73.9 percent. On the other hand, Latin America increased 8.9 percent year over year, mainly owing to the proximity of foreign markets in this region.
The load factors were relatively high. United had a consolidated load factor of 77 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 82.5 percent in 2019. Domestic load factors were 83 percent, significantly lower than the 83.8 percent recorded in 2019. On the other hand, United's foreign load factor was 66.3 percent, down from 80.8 percent in 2019.
United's colossal 2021
While United Airlines experienced significant setbacks, including the grounding of 52 Boeing 777s that are slated to resume service this year, in 2021, the carrier had several outstanding moments in a year that kicked off the comeback. One of the most significant was developing United's post-crisis strategy, nicknamed "United Next."
United Next featured a sizable order for 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft. However, it included plans to upgrade 100 percent of United's mainline narrowbody fleet with a new "signature interior" that includes more premium seats, larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment at every seat, and an emphasis on quicker WiFi. United also hastened the retirement of 50-seater all-economy regional planes to eliminate them from Newark by November.
United Airlines expanded its network to 14 airports. This includes New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, Ghana's Accra, Nigeria's Lagos, Barbados' Bridgetown, Croatia's Dubrovnik, and South Africa's Johannesburg. Meanwhile, United announced five additional summers 2022 destinations and a significant increase of its London service in October. Additionally, it concluded the year by telling a new relationship with Virgin Australia.