United Airlines made a net loss of $1.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020 – described by the airline as “the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history”.

The adjusted net loss figure was $2.6 billion.

The airline was burning cash during the period at a rate of $40 million a day. Average daily cash burn in the third quarter is estimated to be about $25 million.

Total operating revenues were down 87% year-on-year, on an 88% decrease in capacity year-on-year.

Scott Kirby, chief executive, said: “While this unprecedented crisis has been difficult for our team, we expect United produced fewer losses and lower cash burn in the second quarter than any of our large network competitors.

“We accomplished this by quickly and accurately forecasting the impact that Covid would have on passenger and cargo demand, accurately matching our schedule to that reduced demand, completing the largest debt financing deal in aviation history, and cutting expenses across our business.

“We believe this quick and aggressive action has positioned United to both survive the Covid crisis and capitalise on consumer demand when it sustainably returns.”

United doubled the size of its schedule from June to July and its schedule will expand again in August. It is expecting a July load factor of 45%.

In January, the airline reported it had made a record $3 billion profit for 2019.

Last week, rival carrier Delta Air Lines has posted a $3.9 billion adjusted pre-tax loss for the second quarter of 2020.

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