United reported a net loss of $1.9 billion for the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $641 million in the same period a year earlier. Altogether, United lost $7.1 billion in 2020.
While the outlook for the next few months remains dim for airlines, United said it has gotten a handle on how to survive its immediate challenges and outlined the broad strokes of its plan to exceed its 2019 profit margins by 2023, through a combination of returning travel revenue and cost-cutting.
“Aggressively managing the challenges of 2020 depended on our innovation and fast-paced decision making. But the truth is that Covid-19 has changed United Airlines forever,” said United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby.
United’s losses come nearly a week after Delta Air Lines Inc. said it lost $12 billion in last year, also its worst-ever annual performance. The two airlines’ dismal results reflect the damage the pandemic has inflicted on airlines. Carriers including Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. are set to report fourth-quarter results next week.