United Airlines has boosted its revenue outlook for the second quarter of 2022 thanks to strong travel demand.
The airline said it now expects total revenue per seat mile to be up by 23%-25% compared with 2019 levels, against a previous prediction for an increase of approximately 17%.
However, with the industry struggling with staffing shortages, United has also slightly tweaked its capacity plans for the current quarter. It now expects capacity to fall by about 14% compared with pre-pandemic levels, versus a previous forecast for a drop of about 13%.
“In the period following the Company’s previous guidance, the demand environment has continued to improve, resulting in a higher unit revenue outlook for the second quarter 2022,” United Airlines commented in a stock exchange filing on May 16, 2022.
United had previously said on April 20, 2022 that it expected second quarter revenue to reach record levels, helping it return to profitability. When publishing first-quarter results, the airline’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, even commented that the demand environment was “the strongest it’s been in my 30 years in the industry”.
While the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has seen leisure travel recover first, the carrier noted at the time that business travel was also rapidly returning.
But although demand is improving, the price of oil has also continued to increase, cautioned United in the May 16 update. It therefore now expects the average aircraft fuel price per gallon to be $4.02, up from a previous estimate of $3.43.