United plans to push forward with aggressive growth in 2019,
following a successful 2018.
The carrier said Wednesday that it would grow its network by
4% to 6% this year, following its 2018 growth of 4.9%. By comparison, Delta
plans 3% growth in the coming year.
Most of United's increase will be in domestic flights, chief
commercial officer Andrew Nocella said during the United's fourth-quarter earnings
call, though the carrier also recently announced a large international
expansion at its San Francisco hub.
Domestically, a key United initiative will be reworking the flight
schedule at its Denver hub next month to facilitate more consolidated
connection times. United undertook that process, known as rebanking, at its
mid-continent hubs in Chicago and Houston last year with positive revenue
results, the carrier says.
A year ago, United sparked fears among investors of an
expansion war in the U.S. airline industry when it announced a growth plan at
The strategy, though, has paid off for the airline. Its 2018
adjusted earnings per share of $9.13 exceeded its initial 2018 guidance of
$6.50 to $8.50. United stock is up approximately 11% over the past year,
outperforming Delta, American and Southwest, all of which have experienced
On Wednesday, United reported revenue for the fourth quarter
of $10.49 billion, beating analyst estimates by $130 million, according to Seeking
Alpha. For full year 2018, revenue was up 9.3% versus a jump in expenses of
11.4% that was due largely to a fuel cost increase of 34.6%.
For the fourth quarter, United reported net income of $462
million, down 20.2%.
United reported full-year 2018 net income of $2.13 billion,
down 0.7% from 2017.