The Chicago-based carrier reported an adjusted loss of $1.02 per share, compared with a loss of $8.16 per share last year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts were forecasting a loss of $1.67 per share, according to Refinitiv data.
With government pandemic aid, the airline reported a net profit of $1.44 per share for the quarter.
Third-quarter revenue came in at $7.75 billion, compared with $2.49 billion a year ago, and was above Wall Street’s estimates of $7.64 billion.
After a strong summer travel season, the fast spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus slowed down new bookings and drove up cancellations, threatening the industry’s fragile recovery.
However, with a decline in COVID-19 cases as more people get vaccinated, carriers say bookings have stabilized and are recovering.
U.S. airlines are eyeing a strong holiday season, with United planning to fly its biggest domestic schedule since the start of the pandemic, offering more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December – representing 91% of its domestic capacity compared to 2019.
United said it expects revenue in the current quarter to recover to at least 70% of 2019 levels. Capacity in the December quarter is estimated to be down 23% compared with the corresponding quarter in 2019.