As United Adds International Routes, It Shares Gloomy Revenue Projections

The airline expects a 70 percent year-over-year revenue loss this quarter

United Airlines To Furlough 16,000 Employees
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Just last week, United sparked a significant industry shakeup—the delight of travelers across the country—when it eliminated some change fees for good. Today, it's offered more hope for travelers: the airline announced five new international routes that are scheduled to begin operations over the next few months. 

Starting in December, United will fly between Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Then next spring, it will fly from San Francisco International Airport to Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru in Bangalore, India (marking the first time the airline will service the city); Newark Liberty International Airport outside of New York to Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport; and Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. to both Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, and Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. 

"Now is the right time to take a bold step in evolving our global network to help our customers reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues around the world," Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of International Network and Alliances, said in a statement. "These new nonstop routes provide shorter travel times and convenient one-stop connections from across the United States, demonstrating United's continued innovative and forward-looking approach to rebuilding our network to meet the travel needs of our customers." 

But despite this promising expansion of its route network, United is hurting. In an investor call today, United projected a 70 percent loss in revenue for the third quarter of 2020 as compared to the same period the year prior. In passenger revenue specifically, it projects a massive 85 percent loss. Overall, United estimates that it will burn through $25 million per day in the quarter. To help offset this, the airline will schedule just 40 percent of the flights flown in Oct. 2019 during the same month this year—and it will likely furlough thousands of employees come Oct. 1, the day after the CARES Act, which helped bail out the airlines, expires.

Despite these setbacks, United has announced that it will still have $18 billion in liquidity at the end of this month. With this somewhat unusual financial situation, we're curious to see if these new international routes will become a reality.

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