United Airlines Holdings’ fourth-quarter profits surged nearly 40% in the last three months of 2019 from a year earlier, thanks to strong travel demand and less expensive fuel.
The Chicago-based carrier reported earnings and revenue on Tuesday that narrowly beat analysts’ estimates, sending shares up slightly in postmarket trading.
United posted net income of $614 million, up 39% from the year-earlier period on revenues of $10.89 billion, nearly 4% higher than a year earlier and slightly above analyst estimates.
United expanded capacity in the fourth quarter by 2.6% from a year earlier. United is one of the U.S. airlines, along with American and Southwest, that has Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet. Those planes have been grounded since March after two fatal crashes. Boeing said Tuesday that it doesn’t expect regulators to lift a ban on flying them until the middle of this year.
Boeing’s new timeline is far later than analysts were expecting and presents another headache for airlines: They likely won’t have the fuel-efficient jets available for summer travel season, when U.S. airline revenue generally peaks.
United executives will hold an earnings call at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday and will face questions about the planes and its plans for the year.
The carrier’s per-share earnings came in at $2.67 on an adjusted basis, compared with the $2.65 analysts polled by Refinitiv were expecting.