United Airlines offered a bullish forecast on air travel, saying it doesn't expect macroeconomic headwinds to derail the industry's recovery

New York (AFP) - United Airlines reported strong third-quarter results Tuesday and said it does not expect inflation and other macroeconomic headwinds to derail the travel industry’s comeback.

The major US carrier improved in key revenue benchmarks compared with the comparable pre-pandemic 2019 stretch, making the period “by most metrics, the best operational quarter in our history,” as Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby put it.

Compared with the 2019 quarter, United had about 10 percent fewer passengers and also about 10 percent lower seat capacity in the just-finished quarter.

But revenues were about 13 percent higher, thanks to lofty ticket prices in the wake of torrid consumer demand.

“Despite growing concerns about an economic slowdown, the ongoing COVID recovery trends at United continue to prevail and we remain optimistic that we’ll continue to deliver strong financial results in the fourth quarter, 2023 and beyond,” Kirby said.

Profits for the quarter ending September 30 were $942 million, about double the year-ago level, with revenues jumping 66 percent to $12.9 billion.

United pointed to three “durable” industry-wide trends that it expects to override economic headwinds: continuing pent-up travel demand after the coronavirus pandemic; the beneficial impact of hybrid work on travel demand; and “external supply challenges” that will limit industry supply.

Shares of United jumped 7.1 percent to $39.88 in after-hours trading.