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United Airlines reports $124 million loss in a quarter marred by grounding of some Boeing planes

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United Airlines reports $124 million loss in a quarter marred by grounding of some Boeing planes
April 16, 2024
DAVID KOENIG - AP

United Airlines said Tuesday that it lost $124 million in the first quarter, which it blamed on a three-week grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 9s after a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Max jetliner in January.

United indicated it would receive far fewer new planes from Boeing this year than it expected, and it has begun leasing Airbus jets to fill out its fleet.

Financial results released by the airline pointed to continued strength in demand for air travel, especially within the United States and across the Atlantic. United forecast better-than-expected profit in the second quarter.

In the first quarter, however, United said it was hobbled by the temporary loss of its 79 Max 9 aircraft during most of January. The airline was forced to cancel hundreds of flights and switch planes on many others.

United said the grounding cost it $200 million — enough to turn a small profit into a loss for the quarter.

Alaska, the only other U.S. carrier using the Max 9, has reported getting $160 million in "initial compensation from Boeing for the grounding. A United official declined to discuss negotiations with the aircraft maker.

United has already asked its pilots to volunteer for unpaid time off next month and could extend that request into the fall.

Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings said that excluding special items it lost 15 cents per share. Analysts on average expected a loss of 58 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose nearly 10%, to $12.54 billion, beating the Wall Street forecast of $12.45 billion.

United forecast that it will earn between $3.75 and $4.25 per share in the second quarter, which would top analysts' average prediction of $3.73 per share.

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