United Airlines reported a net income of $473 million in the third quarter of 2021, citing a rebound in travel demand following a slight drop registered in Q3 due to the Delta variant. 

In a statement, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby announced: "The recovery was delayed by the Delta variant, but the United team remains focused on our long-term vision – and not getting sidetracked by near-term volatility.” 

In Q3 2021, the airline’s capacity was down 28% compared to the same period in 2019. 

However, the carrier, which reported an operating revenue of $7.8 billion during the quarter, is optimistic about the future, seeing signs of business travel recovery and easing travel restrictions in key Pacific markets.

Kirby explained: “We're solidly on track to achieve the targets we set for 2022. 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.”

Looking ahead to 2022, United expects that, driven by international growth, capacity will increase by approximately 5% compared to 2019. With the Boeing 777 returning to its fleet in 2022, the airline also anticipates flying a record number of flights to Europe, Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East in summer 2022.

On October 7, 2021, United announced plans to boost its domestic schedule by adding more than 3,500 flights in December 2021. The move comes as the airline prepares to meet a surge in demand for air travel during the holiday season.

"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United Airlines.

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United Airlines plans to boost domestic schedule with additional flights in a bid to meet a surge in holiday travel.