United Airlines forecasts first-quarter loss

United Airlines forecasts first-quarter loss

A member of the ground crew directs a United Airlines aircraft to a gate at Terminal A of Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, on Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Aristide Economopoulos | Bloomberg | Getty Images

United Airlines Shares fell about 4% on Tuesday after the airline forecast a first-quarter loss, citing weaker demand growth compared to other months and higher fuel costs.

The company also said it will incur costs related to a possible new contract with its pilots earlier than originally forecast in the first quarter, although negotiations are ongoing.

The airline expects an adjusted quarterly loss of between 60 cents and $1 a share, compared to previous guidance of adjusted earnings of between 50 cents and $1 a share for the first three months of the year.

“While all months of 2023 are expected to be significantly higher than the corresponding months of 2019, the Company is observing new seasonal demand patterns, with lower demand months such as January and February 2023 growing at a slower rate than higher demand months,” United said in of a securities file after the market closed on Monday.

The airline then announced that it had lowered its estimate for unit revenue to between 22% and 23% year over year, compared to the previous forecast of a 25% increase.

As travelers return to more traditional booking patterns, such as B. Travel near holidays and other popular vacation times, second-quarter revenue is likely to be higher than United previously expected, with operating income up “in the mid-teens” year-over-year, the company said.

The airline still expects to earn between $10 and $12 per share on an adjusted basis this year.

The Chicago-based airline is expected to speak at a JP Morgan industry conference Tuesday along with other airlines including Delta, American And JetBlue.

Delta forecast a net loss of $100 million to $200 million for the first quarter. Adjusted for costs associated with a new pilot contract, Delta expects quarterly earnings of $100 to $200 million, or 15 to 40 cents per share.

CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday that travel demand is stable.