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 United Airlines Reports Full-Year and Fourth-Quarter 2018 Performance
   Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:15:00 PM ET

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In a departure from industry trends, United (UAL) announced today that its fourth-quarter unit revenue came in at the high end of its guidance range and also exceeded its full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share target laid out last January. UAL reported full-year net income of $2.1 billion, diluted earnings per share of $7.70 (a 9.1 percent increase year-over-year), pre-tax earnings of $2.7 billion and pre-tax margin of 6.4 percent. UAL reported adjusted full-year net income of $2.5 billion, adjusted pre-tax earnings of $3.2 billion and adjusted pre-tax margin of 7.7 percent.1 UAL increased its full-year 2018 adjusted diluted earnings per share outlook three times during the year despite a $2.4 billion year-over-year headwind from fuel. Full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share increased 33.5 percent year-over-year to $9.13, above the high end of the company's most recent guidance range.1

"United's financial performance is a testament to the successful implementation of the first year of our strategic plan and to the record-setting operational performance powered by the more than 90,000 airline professionals who work at United," said Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines. "United delivered proof, not just promises in 2018 - even in the face of significant headwinds from higher than expected fuel costs. It's why I couldn't be more proud of our winning culture and customer-focused team and continue to be enthusiastic about United's bright future."

For 2019, UAL expects adjusted diluted earnings per share to again grow year-over-year to between $10.00 to $12.00.2

  • UAL reported fourth-quarter net income of $462 million, diluted earnings per share of $1.70, pre-tax earnings of $556 million and pre-tax margin of 5.3 percent.
  • UAL reported fourth-quarter adjusted net income of $657 million, adjusted diluted earnings per share of $2.41 and adjusted pre-tax earnings of $814 million.
  • UAL reported fourth-quarter adjusted pre-tax margin of 7.8 percent,1 expanding margin on an adjusted basis of 0.9 points versus the fourth-quarter of 2017.
  • UAL recovered 98% percent of the year-over-year increase in fuel prices in 2018.
  • Consolidated fourth-quarter passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased 5 percent year-over-year, at the high end of the company's fourth-quarter 2018 guidance range.
  • Consolidated fourth-quarter unit cost per available seat mile (CASM) increased 7.0 percent year-over-year.
  • Consolidated fourth-quarter CASM, excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, decreased 0.7 percent year-over-year.
  • Employees earned $334 million in profit sharing for 2018.

For more information on UAL's first-quarter and full-year 2019 guidance, please visit for the company's investor update.

2018 Highlights

Record-Setting Operational Performance3

  • Set new UAL records by flying the most revenue passengers ever, operating the most mainline departures and achieving the fewest cancellations ever in a year, resulting in more UAL customers departing on-time in 2018 than ever before.
  • For the year, achieved the best completion rate in company history with more than 1.7 million flights.
  • In 2018, achieved the best ever company STAR performance (first departures of the day), with nearly 250,000 flights leaving on time.
  • In the fourth quarter, the company achieved top-tier performance in on-time departures among its largest competitors. For the December holiday season, UAL had its best-ever on-time departure performance while flying the most revenue customers it had ever flown during the holiday period.

Customer Experience

  • Opened three new United Polaris lounges located in San Francisco International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
  • Announced UAL's newest premium seating, United® Premium Plus, which will provide more space, comfort and amenities on select international flights starting later this year.
  • Introduced a new boarding process designed to reduce customers' stress by reducing time spent waiting in line and providing them with improved boarding information.
  • Expanded personal device entertainment option to all aircraft, providing at least one free entertainment option on all Wi-Fi equipped aircraft.
  • MileagePlus loyalty program voted Best Overall Frequent-Flyer Program in the world for the 15th consecutive year by readers of Global Traveler, and voted Favorite Frequent-Flyer Program in the Trazee Awards.


  • Employees earned incentive payments totaling approximately $14 million for achieving operational performance goals in the quarter, marking a full year of earned incentive payments totaling $55 million.
  • Introduced and trained over 90,000 team members on UAL's new customer service decision framework, the core4, which focuses on the principles of safe, caring, dependable and efficient.
  • Deployed 6,000 iPads to maintenance employees, improving reliability and efficiency.
  • Unveiled a state-of-the-art flight training center in Denver, Colorado - the largest in the world and home to the company's more than 30 full flight simulators representing all of UAL's fleet types.
  • Successfully completed the full implementation of the flight attendant joint collective bargaining agreement, allowing the company to operate more efficiently and reliably.
  • Achieved the top score of 100 percent on the 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI), a prominent benchmarking metric that rates U.S. companies on their disability inclusion policies and practices, also earning UAL a place on DEI's 2018 "Best Places to Work" list.
  • Received "Best-of-the-Best" Award from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and National Business Inclusion Consortium for commitment to diversity and inclusion across all communities.


  • Introduced 93 new routes, adding more flights in 2018 than any other U.S. airline.
  • Announced new international service including Washington-Dulles to Tel Aviv, Israel; San Francisco to Amsterdam, Netherlands; Newark/New York to Naples, Italy; as well as Newark/New York to Prague, Czech Republic and Denver to Frankfurt, Germany, all subject to government approval.
  • Launched several exciting new international routes including Houston to Sydney, San Francisco to Tahiti and Denver to London.
  • Announced schedule expansion at East Coast hubs in Newark/New York and Washington-Dulles to offer more nonstop flights to destinations popular with New York-area customers while reallocating largely connecting passenger flights to Washington-Dulles.
  • Announced a joint business agreement with Compañía Panameña de Aviación S.A. (Copa), Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A. (Avianca) and many of Avianca's affiliates, pending government approval.


  • Took delivery of 21 new Boeing aircraft, including four 777-300ER, four 787-9, three 787-10 and ten 737 MAX 9 aircraft.
  • In December 2018, ordered an additional four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and 24 737 MAX aircraft.

Community and Environment

  • Pledged to reduce the company's greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, the only U.S. airline to commit to emissions reductions, further strengthening UAL's ambition to be the world's most environmentally conscious airline.
  • Announced a total of $8 million in grants to benefit organizations in each of UAL's domestic hub communities.
  • Announced new global partnership with the Special Olympics and flew hundreds of Team USA Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2018 athletes, coaches and family members to PyeongChang, South Korea, continuing the 38-year relationship between UAL and the United States Olympic Committee.
  • Ranked No. 1 among global carriers in Newsweek's 2017 Global 500 Green Rankings, one of the most recognized environmental performance assessments of the world's largest publicly traded companies.
  • Launched a Crowdrise fundraising campaign to support those affected by Hurricane Florence, Typhoon Mangkhut, flooding in Western Japan, wildfires in California and other disasters.

Earnings Call

UAL will hold a conference call to discuss its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 financial results and its financial and operational outlook for the first quarter and full year of 2019 on Wednesday, January 16, at 9:30 a.m. Central time /10:30 a.m. Eastern time. A live, listen-only webcast of the conference call will be available at . The webcast will be available for replay within 24 hours of the conference call and then archived on the website for three months.

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate approximately 4,800 flights a day to 353 airports across five continents. In 2018, United and United Express operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 158 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark/New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates 770 mainline aircraft and the airline's United Express carriers operate 559 regional aircraft. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 193 countries via 28 member airlines. For more information, visit , follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Certain statements included in this release are forward-looking and thus reflect our current expectations and beliefs with respect to certain current and future events and anticipated financial and operating performance. Such forward-looking statements are and will be subject to many risks and uncertainties relating to our operations and business environment that may cause actual results to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Words such as "expects," "will," "plans," "anticipates," "indicates," "believes," "estimates," "forecast," "guidance," "outlook," "goals" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Additionally, forward-looking statements include statements that do not relate solely to historical facts, such as statements which identify uncertainties or trends, discuss the possible future effects of current known trends or uncertainties, or which indicate that the future effects of known trends or uncertainties cannot be predicted, guaranteed or assured. All forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to us on the date of this release. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. Our actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to numerous factors including, without limitation, the following: general economic conditions (including interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, investment or credit market conditions, crude oil prices, costs of aircraft fuel and energy refining capacity in relevant markets); economic and political instability and other risks of doing business globally, including political developments that may impact our operations in certain countries; demand for travel and the impact that global economic and political conditions have on customer travel patterns; competitive pressures on pricing and on demand; demand for transportation in the markets in which we operate; our capacity decisions and the capacity decisions of our competitors; the effects of any hostilities, act of war or terrorist attack; the effects of any technology failures or cybersecurity breaches; the impact of regulatory, investigative and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; disruptions to our regional network; the ability of other air carriers with whom we have alliances or partnerships to provide the services contemplated by the respective arrangements with such carriers; costs associated with any modification or termination of our aircraft orders; potential reputational or other impact from adverse events in our operations, the operations of our regional carriers, the operations of our code share partners or the aircraft operated by another airline of the same model as operated by us, our regional carriers or our code share partners; our ability to attract and retain customers; our ability to execute our operational plans and revenue-generating initiatives, including optimizing our revenue; our ability to control our costs, including realizing benefits from our resource optimization efforts, cost reduction initiatives and fleet replacement programs; the impact of any management changes; our ability to cost-effectively hedge against increases in the price of aircraft fuel if we decide to do so; any potential realized or unrealized gains or losses related to any fuel or currency hedging programs; labor costs; our ability to maintain satisfactory labor relations and the results of any collective bargaining agreement process with our union groups; any disruptions to operations due to any potential actions by our labor groups; an outbreak of a disease that affects travel demand or travel behavior; U.S. or foreign governmental legislation, regulation and other actions (including Open Skies agreements and environmental regulations); industry consolidation or changes in airline alliances; our ability to comply with the terms of our various financing arrangements; the costs and availability of financing; our ability to maintain adequate liquidity; the costs and availability of aviation and other insurance; weather conditions; our ability to utilize our net operating losses to offset future taxable income; the impact of changes in tax laws; the success of our investments in airlines in other parts of the world; and other risks and uncertainties set forth under Part I, Item 1A., "Risk Factors," of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, as well as other risks and uncertainties set forth from time to time in the reports we file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

-tables attached-

On January 1, 2018, United Continental Holdings, Inc. ("UAL") adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09 (Topic 606), Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and Accounting Standards Update No. 2017-07, Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost. As such, certain previously reported 2017 figures are adjusted in this report on a basis consistent with the new standards. See the Current Report on Form 8-K filed by UAL with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 1, 2018 for additional information.











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