United Airlines releases 2010 financial results and other noteworthy items

Yesterday United Airlines (technically United Continental Holdings, Inc.) released their 4th Quarter and full-year 2010 financial results. I generally find these numbers easier to read in a table, so here are some of the items that stood out to me from their consolidated (United & Continental) pro-forma statement:

Fuel jumped way up, and one source is predicting oil prices will increase an additional 6.5% in 2011. Since I’ve been following the battles between American Airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), I was curious to see just how much United spent on distribution, and it came in at $1.39 billion for the full-year, up 14.9%. I can better see now why American (and all carriers) are looking to reduce this fairly significant expense.

For the less mind-numbing non-financial news items that came out yesterday, it was reported in this FlyerTalk thread that:

  • Seat configuration announcement would be made in the next 60 days
  • Combined website selling & airport check-in will begin late spring
  • United’s Red Carpet Club’s will be rebranded “United Club” in the third quarter
  • Combined frequent flyer program details will be revealed “later this year”

For seat configuration, I, along with the vast majority of United loyalists, are incredibly eager to hear about the status of United’s Economy Plus seating. Those several rows of seats with extra legroom at the front of coach are a competitive advantage, and very much appreciated when first class upgrades don’t come through. Also in this area is the decision on how many cabin classes to offer on International Flights. Will it be First, Business & Economy like United currently offers, BusinessFirst & Economy like Continental, or some kind of blended-by-market-demand situation.

Finally, I wanted to post some interesting statistics that are often not reported in the major press releases. They pretty much speak for themselves, and I suppose the only shocker for me is the average fare per passenger. I absolutely thought it would be higher than $240.60 given the likely high volumes of full-fare paying traffic. Who knew!

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