United CEO expects revenue to cap at 50% of 2019 levels until there is a vaccine

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United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said on Wednesday he expects air fares to decline as the pandemic continues to depress demand for flights.“I guess the prices are going to come down in the short term,” Kirby told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. All normal price measures… in this pandemic are a bit irrelevant. ”

The airline lost more than $ 1.6 billion in the three months ended June and is now focused on reducing its daily consumption rate by more than a third from $ 40 million in the second quarter to 25 million dollars in the third quarter.

“The most important metric is the consumption of cash,” he said.

The pandemic and travel restrictions designed to prevent it from spreading have devastated demand for air travel. United have been cautious about adding more flights and said they may reduce capacity even further, depending on future demand.

Kirby said demand appeared to have bottomed out after dropping in recent weeks, but revenues could peak at 50% of 2019 levels, until there is a vaccine widely available for Covid- 19. United’s revenue fell more than 87% in the second quarter from a year earlier.

United said on Tuesday it expects to have $ 18 billion in cash after raising more than $ 16 billion since the start of the crisis through debt and share sales, as well as l federal aid.

Airlines have received $ 25 billion in federal payroll aid, which bans them from cutting jobs until Sept. 30, but airlines are warning workers of potential cuts when plans expire. conditions of aid. United told 36,000 workers on July 9 that their jobs were in jeopardy. The airline and other carriers are urging employees to accept buyout packages. United said Tuesday that some 6,000 people had volunteered so far.

When asked if additional federal help was needed, Kirby said, “I have no doubts that we can get through the crisis without more funding, but it will also have an impact on jobs. “

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