17 October, 2023

United Airlines reports record-breaking international performance in third-quarter

United had record-setting profits in both the Atlantic and Pacific regions

Pre-tax income increased 29% y-o-y; on an adjusted basis increased 37%

Delivered strong operational performance, with September being best on-time performance of the year 

Increasingly powerful segmentation strategy proving to be a competitive advantage

United Airlines today reported third-quarter 2023 financial results. The company reported quarterly pre-tax income of $1.5 billion, pre-tax margin of 10.3 % and diluted earnings per share of $3.42 and; on an adjusted basis, pre-tax income of $1.6 billion, pre-tax margin of 10.8% and diluted earnings per share of $3.65.

Total third-quarter top line revenue was up 12.5% year-over-year, a record revenue quarter and near the high end of guidance. United experienced a strong and steady domestic demand environment in the quarter, with 9% revenue growth year-over-year, outpacing second quarter results. The company saw strength in close-in bookings in August and September with both months well ahead of year-over-year demand.

In the international space, profits were at record highs in both the Atlantic and Pacific regions. Revenue in the Atlantic region was up 15% versus the same quarter in 2022, and 70% versus the same quarter in 2019. Pacific revenue exceeded third-quarter 2019 levels despite capacity remaining 24% below third-quarter 2019. Domestic revenues in the quarter were second highest all-time and the domestic system remains solidly profitable.

The company has built a winning strategy around giving customers choice when it comes to the level of service they want. Demand for premium products remains high, with great success in the premium economy cabin where revenue has outpaced capacity growth since its introduction in 2019. In total, revenue from premium products was up 20% year-over-year in the quarter and accounts for more than half of all passenger revenue. Basic Economy has also provided another popular option for customers and has been a great competitive offering with revenue for that product in the quarter up 50% year-over-year.

United continues to see the benefits of having an award-winning airline loyalty program. The third quarter showed a continued multi-year new MileagePlus® member trend, setting a record for third-quarter enrollments and nearly doubling the number of new members versus the third quarter just five years ago. Spending across the U.S. card portfolio year-to-date is up double-digits over the first three quarters of 2022 and this third quarter saw more miles redeemed across the program than any third quarter in history for award travel. 

"Thank you to our extraordinary United team who delivered a record-setting operational performance for our customers in August and September," said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. "Our strategy to diversify our revenue streams, capitalize on growth opportunities and constantly innovate to enhance our products for our customers is paying off. Our United Next strategy is working and we remain on track to hit our financial targets."

Third-Quarter Financial Results

  • Capacity up 15.7% compared to third-quarter 2022.
  • Total operating revenue of $14.5 billion, up 12.5% compared to third-quarter 2022.
  • TRASM down 2.8% compared to third-quarter 2022.
  • CASM down 3.6%, and CASM-ex up 2.6%, compared to third-quarter 2022.
  • Pre-tax income of $1.5 billion, with a pre-tax margin of 10.3%; adjusted pre-tax income of $1.6 billion, with an adjusted pre-tax margin of 10.8%.
  • Net income of $1.1 billion, adjusted net income of $1.2 billion.
  • Diluted earnings per share of $3.42, adjusted diluted earnings per share of $3.65.
  • Average fuel price per gallon of $2.95.
  • Trailing twelve months adjusted net debt to adjusted EBITDAR of 2.5x.

Key Highlights

  • United pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), ratified a new four-year contract with the company.
  • Announced promotions of Michael Leskinen to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Josh Earnest to Executive Vice President of Communications and Advertising, and Terri Fariello to Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Global Public Policy.
  • Introduced a new United First® seat that includes a wireless charging station in every arm rest and 13-inch seatback screens for domestic aircraft.
  • Opened two new United Club℠ locations in Denver, including the airline's largest club – a 35,000 sq. ft. club with a modern take on the United Club experience.
  • Announced the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund℠ increased its investment power to nearly $200 million and added eight new corporate partners, five months after its initial launch.
  • Launched the industry-leading United Military Pilot Program giving full-time, active-duty U.S. military pilots access to conditional job offers as a First Officer with the airline.

Customer Experience

  • Became the first U.S. airline to add braille to aircraft interiors.
  • Onboarded new amenity kits for premium passengers in international, transcontinental, and Hawaii markets. In addition, introduced upgraded Saks Fifth Avenue bedding for United Polaris customers.
  • Was awarded the World's Best Airline App by the World Aviation Festival for the airline's industry leading capabilities on making the day of travel easier.
  • Named Favorite International Airline for the fourth year in a row and Favorite Frequent-Flyer Program for our MileagePlus program for the sixth year in a row by Trazee Travel.
  • Partnered with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, to create a brand-new Children's Travel Kit.


  • Set the company's record for the highest daily average of revenue passengers ever carried in a quarter at more than 482,000 passengers.
  • Achieved the most ever quarterly mainline (2,621) and widebody (324) daily departures in United's history.
  • United Express achieved 30 days of 100% completion – the highest number ever for any quarter in history.
  • Held the second highest third quarter seat factor in history behind third-quarter 2022.


  • Flew over 436 domestic markets on mainline aircraft this quarter – up from 367 in the third quarter of 2019.
  • Made significant growth in the Denver market, reaching the most mainline departures in over 20 years at 300 daily departures, a 10% year-over-year seat capacity growth for the quarter, and daily departure increases on over 20 routes year-over-year.
  • Announced a major international expansion to Asia, including the first nonstop service from the continental U.S. to Manila by a U.S. airline and the introduction of daily flights from the continental U.S. to Hong Kong and Tokyo-Narita, and a second daily flight to Taipei.
  • Announced United's return to Beijing with daily nonstop service from San Francisco.
  • Introduced 127 new, nonstop flights to select cities this fall to help college football fans travel to games.


  • Announced an investment in Electric Power Systems, a company producing battery technology that can potentially be used for a broad suite of aerospace applications.
  • Transported more than 110,000 lbs. of relief supplies in support of Maui Disaster Relief efforts. Through Miles on a Mission, United and MileagePlus members donated 55 million miles to relief efforts in Maui.
  • Hosted over 100 volunteer events for United's 3rd Annual September of Service with more than 2,200 United employees volunteering more than 7,300 hours – the equivalent of over $232,000 in impact served. Throughout the month, United employees packed 304,000 meals, upcycled 12,000 amenity kits, collected nearly 350 lbs. of trash, and installed 6.24 kW of solar energy in communities across the globe.
  • In partnership with DonorsChoose.org – pledged $1.25 million in support of aviation and STEM projects in classrooms across our seven hub markets and more.
  • Partnered with Sesame Workshop during National Preparedness Month to reach children in need around the world, matching up to one million miles raised for the global impact nonprofit behind Sesame Street.