United Airlines announces full-year and fourth-quarter 2023 financial results

United Airlines (UAL) unveiled its financial performance for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023, showcasing resilience and success in the face of a challenging operating environment.

The company reported full-year diluted earnings per share of $7.89 and adjusted full-year diluted earnings per share of $10.05, meeting its initial full-year target set at the beginning of 2023, which ranged from $10 to $12.

United’s robust revenue strategy, marked by diversification, played a pivotal role in its success.

The premium cabin experienced a notable 16% increase in revenue for the quarter year-over-year, while the Basic Economy offering saw a substantial 20% revenue boost for the same period.

The airline also benefited from industry-wide cost convergence, resulting in a strengthened relationship between unit costs and unit revenue performance.

This, combined with enduring demand for travel and a preference for United’s reliable operational performance and premium offerings, enabled the company to achieve its ambitious earnings per share guidance for the full year, despite facing various challenges.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby expressed gratitude to the United team for their hard work in achieving the company’s plans for 2023.

Kirby emphasized the company’s ability to set new operational records for customers and expressed confidence in United’s well-positioned status to capitalize on ongoing trends, delivering on both short and long-term financial targets.

Key Financial Highlights:

Fourth-Quarter Financial Results:

  • Capacity increased by 14.7% compared to Q4 2022.
  • Total operating revenue reached $13.6 billion, up 9.9% from Q4 2022.
  • Pre-tax income of $0.8 billion, with a pre-tax margin of 5.7%; adjusted pre-tax income of $0.8 billion, with an adjusted pre-tax margin of 6.2%.

Full-Year Financial Results:

  • Net income of $2.6 billion; adjusted net income of $3.3 billion.
  • Pre-tax income of $3.4 billion, with a pre-tax margin of 6.3%; adjusted pre-tax income of $4.3 billion, with an adjusted pre-tax margin of 8.0%.
  • Diluted earnings per share of $7.89; adjusted diluted earnings per share of $10.05.

Other Highlights:

  • Announcement of orders for 110 more aircraft for delivery beginning in 2028, a significant milestone in the United Next growth strategy.
  • Delivery and first revenue flight of the airline’s first A321neo, achieving high customer survey results.
  • Successful ratification of new contracts for pilots and employees, demonstrating collaborative labor relations.
  • Accrual of $681 million for employee profit sharing.
  • Expansion and renovation of United Club locations and key updates to Houston and Denver hubs.
  • Launch of the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment initiative supporting startups focused on decarbonizing air travel.

United Airlines remains optimistic about the future, anticipating the continuation of positive trends and reaffirming its strong position in the aviation industry.