United Airlines achieves record-setting performance in Q2 2023

United Airlines aircraft parked at SFO airport.
JacobAviation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

United Airlines has announced its second-quarter 2023 financial results, showcasing an impressive performance that has set new records and fueled its growth strategy.

An outstanding financial performance has allowed United Airlines to accelerate its efforts in restoring its balance sheet, with adjusted net debt to adjusted EBITDAR now at 2.4x, returning to 2019 levels, and even ahead of its full-year 2023 target of less than 3x.

United Next strategy and a bright future

The momentum from the second quarter has positioned United Airlines for a promising future, with projected adjusted earnings per share of $11 to $12 for full-year 2023. The exceptional performance in the second quarter and the optimistic outlook for the future are a testament to the success of the United Next strategy.

The United Next strategy revolves around three key pillars:

Upgauging the Airline: United Airlines is investing in larger, more efficient aircraft to enhance passenger experience and optimize capacity utilization.

Increased Connectivity at Mid-Continent Hubs: The airline is focusing on improving connectivity at its mid-continent hubs, allowing for smoother travel and better options for passengers.

Expanding the Global Network: United aims to expand its industry-leading global network, making it more convenient for travelers to reach various destinations worldwide.


Leveraging network strength

United Airlines’ second-quarter performance was further bolstered by the strength of its network. During this period, the airline’s domestic margins reached 2019 levels, while international margins surpassed those of 2019.

United has established itself as the United States flag carrier, recording a remarkable 27% increase in international capacity compared to the same quarter last year.

To capitalize on the rising demand for international travel, United Airlines announced a second expansion of its Pacific flying.

This fall, the airline will introduce new flights to Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Tokyo (Narita). Additionally, United has solidified its commitment to its international business by partnering with Boeing for the largest widebody aircraft order in history, as announced in December 2022.

United’s CEO Speaks

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby expressed admiration for the exceptional efforts of the United team in overcoming challenges and adapting to change.

Kirby reiterated the company’s commitment to serving customers better, especially at Newark, while also emphasizing the success of the United Next strategy and its timeliness.

The CEO emphasized that the strategy’s execution is the primary focus, as it promises immense benefits for customers, employees, and stakeholders alike.

Operational performance

United Airlines’ operational performance in the second quarter was truly remarkable, with several key highlights:

More Flights Than Ever: The airline achieved a record number of daily flights, surpassing 2,400 mainline flights in a single quarter, the highest in the company’s history.

Mainline Aircraft Dominance: United achieved a significant milestone with 60% of flights being operated by mainline aircraft, demonstrating the airline’s commitment to quality and capacity.

Two-Cabin Aircraft Increase: The number of departures on two-cabin aircraft rose to 87% of departures, an improvement from 68% in the second quarter of 2019.

Expanding flight network

United Airlines’ commitment to expanding its flight network has resulted in impressive achievements during Q2:

Atlantic Expansion: The airline operated its largest schedule across the Atlantic, surpassing its 2019 schedule by 32% and outperforming other US carriers by 10%.

New International Routes: United launched six new international trans-Atlantic routes, connecting Malaga, Spain, and Newark/New York; Stockholm, Sweden, and Newark/New York; Berlin, Germany, and Washington D.C.; Barcelona, Spain, and Chicago; Shannon, Ireland, and Chicago; and Rome, Italy, and San Francisco.

South Pacific Expansion: The airline’s ambitious South Pacific expansion includes direct service to Christchurch, New Zealand, from the Continental United States, via San Francisco.

United also introduced two new routes between Los Angeles and both Auckland, New Zealand, and Brisbane, Australia, pending government approval.

Denver Hub Growth: United Airlines is expanding its presence at Denver International Airport, adding 35 flights and six new non-stop flights, with four destinations unique to the airline.

This summer, United Airlines has more than 50% more flights and destinations than its nearest competitor, marking its largest schedule ever from the Denver hub.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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