Airlines

United Airlines posts $2.1 billion loss on coronavirus hit, seeks more federal aid

Key Points
  • United posted a preliminary $2.1 billion loss for the first quarter.
  • Coronavirus has presented airlines with their biggest-ever crisis.
  • United says it applied for up government loans of up to $4.5 billion, on top of federal payroll aid it expects to receive.
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United reports $2.1 billion loss in first quarter, seeks more in federal aid

United Airlines on Monday reported it had a $2.1 billion loss for the first quarter, its biggest since 2008, as the coronavirus pandemic drove travel demand down to the lowest level in decades.

The Chicago-based airline said it has applied for up to $4.5 billion in government loans on top of about $5 billion in federal payroll grants and loans it also expects to receive to weather the crisis.

United is the first U.S. airline to detail the financial impact of the virus on its results in the first three months of the year, even though the information is preliminary.

The disease and harsh measures to stop it from spreading such as stay-at-home orders has ravaged air travel demand and and prompted carriers to slash most of their flights. Airlines, including United, aren't expecting a rapid turnaround in demand, underscoring how despite debates on when to reopen the economy, consumers aren't planning to return en masse to air travel in the near or medium term.

United said revenue fell 17% in the first quarter from a year ago to $8 billion. On an adjusted basis, United said it had a roughly $1 billion loss in the quarter, stripping out special charges.

The airline's shares were down about 2% in late-morning trading, along with other carriers.