United says 2022 international capacity will exceed 2019 by 10%

United Airlines expects that its international capacity next year will be 10% higher than it was in 2019. 

The carrier cited a rebound in premium leisure demand, increasing business demand, international border reopenings in Europe and indications of loosening restrictions in some Asia-Pacific markets for its bullish international plans.

“The plan will capitalize on already improving international margins and United’s ideally situated coastal hubs that have powered the airline’s recent success in launching new routes to Africa and India,” United said on Wednesday. 

Buoyed by an international ramp-up, United expects its overall capacity in 2022 to be 5% higher than 2019, with domestic capacity roughly equal to what it flew in 2019. 

The carrier placed a figure on its overall international growth expectations less than a week after announcing its largest transatlantic expansion in United history next spring. The growth will include five new destinations in Europe and the Middle East, along with three additional new routes and six other routes that the carrier delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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Should United stick to those plans, the coming year will feature a giant step up in flying compared to this year. In its Q3 earnings report on Wednesday, United said its capacity was 28% down from Q3 2019, with expectations of flying 23% less capacity in tQ4. 

United reported Q3 net income of $473 million but an adjusted net loss of $329 million when excluding federal Covid-19 payroll support benefits and other items. 

United’s operating revenue for the third quarter was $7.8 billion, down 31.9% from 2019. 

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