United Airlines’ Recovery Trajectory Fails to Impress

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Over the past year, United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) has been near the top of the U.S. airline industry in terms of limiting its cash burn. Considering its heavy exposure to hard-hit long-haul travel, United’s cash burn performance was impressive.

Cash burn continued to improve last quarter. Moreover, United reported that “core” cash flow turned positive in the month of March, driven by pent-up leisure travel demand. Nevertheless, with short-haul leisure travel driving the post-pandemic rebound, United Airlines is poised to fall behind top rival Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) during the next stage of the recovery.

United Airlines’ revenue fell 60% year over year in the first quarter of 2021. Despite aggressive cost cuts, United posted an adjusted pre-tax loss of $3.1 billion and an adjusted net loss of $2.4 billion.

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