United Airlines plans to raise international capacity by 10% in 2022.
The US carrier cited a rebound in premium leisure travel, re-opening of European borders, continued recovery of business travel and early indications of loosening travel restrictions in key Pacific markets.
Expected flying at record levels to Europe, Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East in summer 2022 will be enabled by the anticipated return of Boeing 777s to the fleet.
Capacity for 2022 is projected to be up by about 5% over pre-pandemic 2019, driven by international growth.
The airline also plans more than $2 billion in “structural cost reduction” next year as it continues on the path to recovery.
“Despite the impact of the Covid-19 Delta variant in the third quarter, the company remains confidently on track to achieve the range of longer term financial targets,” United said.
Chief executive Scott Kirby added: “The recovery was delayed by the Delta variant, but the United team remains focused on our long-term vision – and not getting side-tracked by near-term volatility – meaning 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.
“Our recovery will be supported by investments in technology and other efficiencies that will give our employees the tools they need to take great care of our customers – and keep costs under control.”
United revealed that 99.7% of all US-based employees chose to comply with a requirement to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
The airline resumed non-stop service on 23 US domestic and 13 international routes compared to the second quarter of 2021.
The details emerged as United reported an adjusted net loss for the summer three months to September of $0.3 billion on reduced revenue of $7.8 billion – down almost 32% on the same period in 2019. Capacity was down 28%.
The airline expects fourth quarter capacity to be down 23% against the same three months in 2019, with total revenue dropping by between 25%-30%.