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United Airlines Posts Big Loss but Claims Industry-Leading Performance

On Wednesday afternoon, United Airlines (NASDAQ: UAL) became the latest airline to report earnings for the third quarter. As expected, the airline giant posted an ugly quarterly loss and burned a lot of cash.

That said, results improved compared to the second quarter. Moreover, United Airlines executives claimed that when the final Q3 numbers are in, the airline would outperform its full-service airline rivals, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and American Airlines. Management also said that United was likely to reach cash breakeven before those key rivals. Let’s take a look at the carrier’s results and sort out fact from fiction.

United Airlines generated $2.5 billion of revenue in the third quarter, down 78% year over year. For the second straight quarter, the carrier benefited from its strong position in key cargo hubs, which allowed it to post a 50% jump in cargo revenue. However, that couldn’t come close to offsetting an 84% plunge in passenger revenue and a 32% decline in other revenue.

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