United likely to report cargo revenue of $2 billion in 2021

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Chicago-based United Airlines is on track to report cargo revenue of $2 billion for the financial year 2021 on surging demand for capacity and higher yields.  

United reported $1.6 billion consolidated cargo revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 2021, an increase of 49 percent compared to the same period in 2020 and an increase of 88 percent from $863 million in the pre-pandemic period of 2019.

Cargo revenue tonne miles increased 26 percent to 2.4 billion from 1.9 billion during the nine months of 2020 but was almost flat compared to 2.4 billion in 2019.

For the three months ended September 30, 2021, United reported a cargo revenue of $519 million, an increase of 23 percent from $422 million in 2020 and 84 percent increase from $282 million in 2019.

Cargo revenue tonne miles increased 11 percent to 758 million for the quarter ended September 2021 from 685 million for the corresponding quarter in 2020 but was down 6 percent from 804 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019.

"Through a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flights, United has transported nearly 255 million pounds of freight, which include nearly 22 million pounds of vital shipments such as medical kits, personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment, and more than 800,000 pounds of military packages in the third-quarter," the airline said in the statement.

United also transported more than 160 million Coronavirus vaccines all over the world in the third-quarter.

Total revenue increased 38 percent to $16.4 billion for the first nine months of 2021 from $11.9 billion during the first nine months of 2020 but was down 49% from $32.4 billion in the  comparative period of 2019.

"From the return of business travel and the planned re-opening of Europe and early indications for opening in the Pacific, the headwinds we've faced are turning to tailwinds, and we believe that United is better positioned to lead the recovery than any airline in the world," CEO Scott Kirby said. "Our recovery will be supported by investments in technology and other efficiencies that will give our employees the tools they need to take great care of our customers - and keep costs under control." 

Delta Airlines, which reported results last week, is likely to close 2021 with $1 billion cargo revenue but said fuel price surge may hit December revenue.

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