United gunning for growth in 2010
United lags behind competitors like Continental, but the company expects to gain ground next year.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
United Airlines (UAUA) says it lagged behind its competitors during the recession, but will outperform them as the economy rebounds.
"We've had disproportionate pressure on business and premium traffic," Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells says. "The good news is that there are signs of recovery on the horizon and we expect to outperform the industry in terms of our unit revenue growth."
The carrier said that in 2007, it ranked second among the five network carriers in passenger revenue per available seat mile, trailing only Continental Airlines (CAL). But during this year’s third quarter, United ranked fourth, ahead of US Airways (LCC). Mikells said that in September, United's performance in terms of unit revenue declines was "slightly better than our peers."
United is also the leading US carrier to Asia, another area hit hard by the recession. However, Pacific travel is coming back, and Mikells says United is in a good position because of its partnership with Japanese carrier ANA. Regarding the bidding war between American Airlines (AMR) and Delta Air Lines (DAL) over a partnership with JAL, the other Japanese carrier, Mikells said, "I don't think it hurts to have our peers upping the ante."
United shares have lost 10% this year, while the Nasdaq Transportation Index has gained 2.6%. However, the stock has jumped 10% annually, on average, during the past three years, as the benchmark lost 6.7%.
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