The return of vacation travelers helped United Airlines reduce its quarterly loss to $434 million and the airline posted surprisingly strong revenue.
The Chicago-based airline said it expects to earn a pretax profit in the remaining two quarters of the year. That would break a string of six-straight money-losing quarters since the pandemic began to crush air travel.
United's second-quarter loss would have been far worse — $1.3 billion — without more than $1 billion in federal pandemic aid, which was partly offset by one-time charges. The airline was also hit by higher expenses for jet fuel.
Still, the loss was much smaller than the $1.63 billion United lost a year earlier and the $1.36 billion loss it suffered in the first quarter of this year.
"Our airline has reached a meaningful turning point: We’re expecting to be back to making a profit once again," CEO Scott Kirby said in a prepared statement.
United shares are up by 1.5% in premarket trading. Shares rose 6.6% in regular trading.
More than 2 million people a day have boarded planes in the U.S. this month, nearly the double the number that were flying back in March.
Travel is still down 20% from pre-pandemic July 2019.
Last month, United signaled its confidence in the recovery by placing its largest-ever order for new jets — 270 from Boeing and Airbus — to replace aging planes and allow for growth after the pandemic.
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In April, Southwest was the first U.S. airline to report a profit since the pandemic hit, and Delta followed last week — in both cases, profits were possible only because airlines have received $54 billion from taxpayers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.