United Continental Holdings (UAL) unites cities around the globe through its primary United Air Lines subsidiary. While United Air Lines is its main line, the company also has regional operations, which are operated under contract by United Express. Combined, the company handles an average of 5,100 flights a day to more than 370 domestic and international destinations from hubs that include Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Like most airlines, the company sells the majority of its seat inventory through travel agencies and global distribution systems in addition to its main website.
UAL operates more than 700 aircraft, including aircraft operated by regional carriers on its behalf. It generates its revenues across four segments: passenger mainline (68% of total sales), passenger regional (19%), cargo (2%), and other (11%).
After enjoying two straight years of sizable growth, United Continental Holdings saw its revenues remain static in 2012, hovering at around 37% billion. It also suffered a net loss of $723 million in 2012 after two years of profitability. However, revenues climbed 3% to $38.3 billion in 2013 as the company posted $571 million in positive net income for the year.
The growth in revenue for 2013 sparked by a 6% increase in passengers revenue primarily due additional passenger volumes coupled with an increase in average fare per passenger of nearly 3%. Other operating revenue climbed by 20% in 2013, which was primarily due to the sale of aircraft fuel of approximately $400 million to a third party. UAL was also helped by additional revenue from non-airline partners under its MileagePlus loyalty program, passenger ticket change fees, and sales of airport lounge access.
The positive net income for 2013 was the result of decreased fuel prices, a 1.4% reduction in capacity and gains from fuel hedging activity, and the addition of special charges as a result of an increase in integration-related costs and labor agreement costs. After experiencing a dip in operating cash flow in 2012, UAL saw an increase of $509 million to $1.4 billion in cash flow during 2013.
United Continental Holdings has ordered a number of fuel-efficient Airbus and Boeing aircraft to replace the older fleet. In mid-2013 United Air Lines was one of the first North American carriers to take delivery and fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. It has 50 Dreamliners scheduled for delivery between 2013 and 2020. The 787, anticipated to be "a game changer" for the company and for the airline industry, will allow both United Air Lines and Continental to enter new long-haul markets and to replace older, less efficient widebody aircraft.
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