Category Archives: United Airlines

United Airlines reports net income of $843 million in the fourth quarter and $737 million profit in 2022

United Airlines (UAL) reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 financial results. The company exceeded adjusted operating margin1 guidance in the fourth quarter reporting a 11.1% operating margin; 11.2% operating margin on an adjusted basis1. Additionally the company reported a 9.1% pre-tax margin on a GAAP basis and 9.0% on an adjusted basis1, achieving its 2023 target ahead of schedule. The company grew operating revenue by 14% and TRASM (total revenue per available seat mile) by 26%, both versus fourth quarter 2019. The company remains confident in the 2023 United Next adjusted pre-tax margin1 target of about 9%.

United was able to recover quickly from significant irregular operations in December as a result of winter storm Elliott. During the key holiday travel days between December 21 and 26, nearly 36% of all United flights were exposed to severe weather. Despite that impact, 90% of United customers made it to their destination within 4 hours of their scheduled arrival time. The company credits significant investment in its people, resources, technology and infrastructure over the past few years with its ability to recover from significant weather events.

“Thank you to the United team that, last month, managed through one of the worst weather events in my career to deliver for so many of our customers and get them home for the holidays,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. “Our dedicated team used our state-of-the-art tools to prepare for the bad weather, take care of our customers and quickly recover once the worst of the weather had passed. Over the last three years, United has made critical investments in tools, infrastructure and our people – all of which are essential investments in our future. That’s why we’ve got a big head start, and we’re now poised to accelerate in 2023 as our United Next strategy becomes a reality.”

Fourth-Quarter Financial Results

  • Net income of $843 million, adjusted net income1 of $811 million.
  • Capacity down 9% compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • Total operating revenue of $12.4 billion, up 14% compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • TRASM of up 26% compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • CASM of up 21%, and CASM-ex1 of up 11%, compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • Operating margin of 11.1%, adjusted operating margin1 of 11.2%, both up over 2 pts. compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • Pre-tax margin of 9.1%, adjusted pre-tax margin1 of 9.0%, both up and around 1 pt. compared to fourth-quarter 2019.
  • Average fuel price per gallon of $3.54.

Full-Year Financial Results

  • Net income of $737 million, adjusted net income1 of $831 million.
  • Operating margin of 5.2%, adjusted operating margin1 of 5.5%.
  • Pre-tax margin of 2.2%, adjusted pre-tax margin1 of 2.5%.
  • Ending available liquidity2 of $18.2 billion.

Key Highlights

  • Announced the largest widebody order by a U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history: 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options to purchase 100 more. Also added 100 additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by exercising 44 options and adding 56 new firm orders. This historic purchase is the next chapter in the ambitious United Next plan and will bolster the airline’s leadership role in global travel for years to come.
  • Officially opened the United Aviate Academy, the only major U.S. airline to own a flight training school, with a historic inaugural pilot class of 80% women or people of color.
  • Launched Calibrate, an in-house apprenticeship program that will help grow and diversify its pipeline of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians.
  • Launched a new, national advertising campaign – “Good Leads The Way” – that tells the story of United’s leadership in areas like customer service, diversity and sustainability, and captures the optimism fueling the airline’s large ambitions at a time of unprecedented demand in air travel.
  • Announced and began the expansion of its Flight Training Center in Denver, already the largest facility of its kind in the world.
  • Announced a historic commercial agreement with Emirates that will enhance each airline’s network and give customers easier access to hundreds of destinations around the world. Also announced a new direct flight between Newark/New York and Dubai beginning in March 2023, subject to government approval.
  • Appointed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, United Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby served as the Co-Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and also served on the Board of Directors of the Business Roundtable as the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee.
  • Hosted the first Eco-Skies Alliance Summit, bringing together leaders, corporate customers, and senior U.S. government officials for important discussions on sustainable aviation fuel, best practices of how to reduce carbon emissions from flying and how to collaborate on future sustainability solutions.

Operational Performance

  • In the fourth quarter, on-time arrival performance (arrival within 14 minutes of schedule) was at 80%, the best quarterly performance of 2022.
  • United finished first among network carriers for on-time departures and completion at its three largest hubs – Denver, O’Hare and Houston – for the fourth-quarter and full-year 2022.
  • In 2022, over 650,000 passenger connections were saved with ConnectionSaver, resulting in United achieving the lowest misconnect rate ever for the fourth quarter and full year (excluding 2020/2021).
  • In the fourth quarter, Inflight Service, Check-In and Club Satisfaction beat their record from last quarter and ended with their highest quarterly performance since the launch of the NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey in 2020.

 Customer Experience

  • In 2022, 80% of domestic departures were operated on a dual-cabin aircraft, up from 67% in 2019.
  • Despite the severe operating conditions during winter storm Elliott, 43% of our customer surveys included a compliment for something a United employee did to help them.
  • Debuted free “bag drop shortcut” – a simple way for customers at United’s U.S. hubs to skip the line, check their bag in a minute or less on average, and get to their flight.
  • Began offering eligible T-Mobile customers free in-flight Wi-Fi and streaming where available on select domestic and short-haul international flights.
  • United, with Jaguar North America, launched the first gate-to-gate airport transfer service powered by an all-electric fleet in the U.S. at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
  • Announced the return of kids’ meals on board on select United flights where complimentary meals are served.
  • Announced the opening of United Club FlySM, a new club concept for a U.S. airline at Denver International Airport.
  • Opened the new United ClubSM location at Newark Liberty International Airport, a 30,000-square-foot space offering travelers a modern design, enhanced amenities and culinary offerings.
  • Debuted new custom amenity kits for United Polaris® from Away ahead of summer travel.
  • Debuted new plant-based menu items from Impossible Foods as part of United’s goal to add more vegan and vegetarian options to its culinary lineup amidst growing demand for plant-based meat.

Network

  • Announced the 2023 summer schedule that includes adding new service to three cities – Malaga, Spain; Stockholm, Sweden; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates – United will be the No. 1 airline to Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East next summer with service to 37 cities, more destinations than all other U.S. airlines combined.
  • Launched a new alliance partnership with Virgin Australia, began year-round, nonstop service between San Francisco and Brisbane, Australiaand became the largest carrier between the United States and Australia.
  • Began year-round, nonstop service between Washington, D.C., and Cape Town, South Africa and expanded to year-round nonstop service between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Expanded the airline’s codeshare agreement with Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines, making it easier for customers to travel to more cities in the United States, Southeast Asia and other destinations in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Announced a joint business agreement with Air Canada for the Canada-U.S. transborder market, building on the companies’ long-standing alliance, that will give more flight options and better flight schedules to customers traveling between the two countries.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

  • In the fourth quarter, over 7,700 volunteer hours were served by more than 1,000 employee volunteers.
  • In the fourth quarter, nearly 13 million miles were donated to 40 participating nonprofit organizations during United’s Giving Tuesday 2022 campaign by over 700 donors, including nearly 2 million miles matched by United.
  • In the fourth quarter, more than 4 million miles and over $111,000 were raised for Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
  • In 2022, through a combination of cargo-only flights and passenger flights, United transported over 1 billion pounds of cargo, including approximately 121 million pounds of medical shipments and approximately 10,500 pounds of military shipments.
  • United Airlines Ventures announced a strategic investment in NEXT Renewable Fuels (NEXT), which is acquiring a permit for a flagship biofuel refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, with expected production beginning in 2026.
  • Announced a $15 million investment in Eve Air Mobility and a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft with options to purchase 200 more, expecting the first deliveries as early as 2026.
  • Launched United for Business Blueprint™, a new platform that will allow corporate customers to fully customize their business travel program contracts with United.
  • United Airlines Ventures and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures announced a collaboration with Cemvita Factory to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuel intended to be developed through a revolutionary new process using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes.
  • Announced a strategic equity investment in Natron Energy, a battery manufacturer whose sodium-ion batteries have the potential to help United electrify its airport ground equipment like pushback tractors and operations at the gate.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden appointed United President Brett Hart to the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Along with the PGA TOUR, announced that it will award 51 golf teams at Historically Black Colleges and Universities with more than half a million dollars in grants to fund travel for golf tournaments and recruiting efforts.
  • Announced a new collaboration with OneTen, a coalition committed to upskill, hire and advance Black talent into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years.
  • United Airlines Ventures announced an investment in and commercial agreement with Dimensional Energy, another step forward to reaching United’s pledge to become 100% green by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, without relying on the use of traditional carbon offsets.
  • Became the first U.S. airline to sign an agreement with Neste to purchase sustainable aviation fuel overseas.
  • Over 42 million miles and more than $400,000 donated to World Central Kitchen, Airlink, American Red Cross, and Americares in support of Ukraine relief efforts by United’s customers, with an additional 5 million miles and $100,000 matched by United.
  • Earned a top score of 100% on the 2022 Disability Equality Index for the seventh consecutive year and was recognized as a “Best Place to Work” for Disability Inclusion.
  • Hosted more than 100 volunteer events for United’s 2nd Annual September of Service with more than 1,600 United employees volunteering 6,500 hours.
  • Became the first airline to donate flights in support of the White House’s Operation Fly Formula and transported Kendamil formula free of charge from Heathrow Airport in London to its Washington Dulles hub.

Top Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 777-222 N769UA (msn 26921) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 959899.

United Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

Mesa Air Group reports a fiscal year net loss of $182.7 million, finalizes its new agreement with United

Mesa Air Group, Inc. (Mesa Airlines) reported its fourth quarter and fiscal full-year 2022 financial and operating results.

Fiscal Fourth Quarter Update:

  • Total operating revenues of $125.6 million
  • Pre-tax loss of $148.6 million, net loss of $115.6 million or $(3.18) per diluted share
  • Adjusted net loss1 of $13.5 million or $(0.37) per diluted share
  • Adjusted net loss excludes a $132.3 million non-cash (pre-tax) impairment loss related to the CRJ fleet
  • New industry-leading pilot pay agreement effective September 15th
  • Agreed to sell 18 CRJ-550s to United Airlines, 10 of which closed during the quarter
  • Launched the Mesa Pilot Development (“MPD”) Program
  • Negotiated a new two-year flight attendant agreement
  • Subsequent to quarter end:
    • Initiated and concluded wind-down agreement with American Airlines
    • Reached agreements with United Airlines for (i) capacity purchase agreement expansion for CRJ900 flying and rate increase, (ii) a loan agreement, and (iii) an engine purchase agreement
    • Renegotiated certain aircraft debt and lease obligations
    • Agreed to sell 11 CRJ900s, expected to close in Q1 CY2023

Fiscal Full-Year 2022 Update:

  • Total operating revenues of $531.0 million
  • Pre-tax loss of $234.7 million, net loss of $182.7 million or $(5.06) per diluted share
  • Adjusted net loss1 of $40.2 million or $(1.12) per diluted share
  • Adjusted net loss excludes a $171.8 million non-cash (pre-tax) impairment loss related to the CRJ fleet

Jonathan Ornstein, Chairman and CEO, said, “Building on our relationship with United Airlines that began in 1992, we are delighted to announce our new and expanded agreements with United, allowing us to expand United’s reach into cities that have seen reductions or loss of flight service created by the industry-wide pilot shortage. After the transition, Mesa will be the only exclusive regional carrier for United operating large regional jets. We believe our strong relationship with United will provide significant opportunities for growth in the future. In particular, we believe Mesa’s participation in the Aviate program, combined with United’s industry-leading growth plan, will provide the most reliable, fastest path for aviators to transition to a major commercial carrier. Combined with the significant liquidity United is providing, this agreement represents a transformational step for our business as we aim to resolve the impacts of the industry-wide pilot shortage that we faced in fiscal 2022. With our pilot pipeline now filled thanks to our new pay scale and enhanced opportunities with United through Aviate, Mesa is in a superior position to meet the significant demand for regional flying.”

Fiscal Fourth Quarter Details:

Total operating revenues in Q4 2022 were $125.6 million, a decrease of $5.1 million (3.9%) from $130.8 million for Q4 2021. Contract revenue decreased $5.3 million, or 4.6%. These decreases were driven by lower block hours, offset by the expiration of temporary rate reductions related to the PSP program. Mesa’s Q4 2022 results include, per GAAP, the deferral of $1.3 million, versus the recognition of $1.3 million of previously deferred revenue in Q4 2021. The remaining deferred revenue balance of $24.1 million will be recognized as flights are completed over the remaining terms of the contracts.

Mesa’s Adjusted EBITDA1 for Q4 2022 was $13.8 million, compared to $25.8 million in Q4 2021, and Adjusted EBITDAR1 was $22.4 million for Q4 2022, compared to $35.5 million in Q4 2021.

Mesa’s Q4 2022 results reflect a net loss of $115.6 million, or $(3.18) per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $7.5 million, or $(0.21) per diluted share for Q4 2021. Mesa’s Q4 2022 adjusted net loss1 was $13.5 million, or $(0.37) per diluted share, versus an adjusted net loss1 of $2.1 million, or $(0.06) per diluted share, in Q4 2021. The year over year decrease in adjusted net income of $11.4 million was primarily due to lower block hours, the net impact of the PSP program, and a decrease in maintenance expense.

For Q4 2022, 48% of the Company’s total revenue was derived from our contracts with United, 45% from American, 2% from DHL, and 5% from leases of aircraft to a third party.

1 See Reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures

Fiscal Full-Year 2022 Details:

For fiscal year 2022, total operating revenues were $531.0 million, an increase of $27.4 million (5.4%) from $503.6 million for fiscal year 2021. Contract revenue increased $44.0 million, or 10.1%. This was primarily due to the return to normal rates from our partners, which were temporarily reduced last year related to the PSP program, and recognition of higher deferred revenue, partially offset by a reduction in block hours and partner utilization penalties. Mesa’s fiscal year 2022 results include, per GAAP, the recognition of $10.4 million of previously deferred revenue, versus the deferral of $10.7 million of revenue in fiscal 2021.

Mesa’s Adjusted EBITDA1 for fiscal year 2022 was $66.6 million, compared to $150.0 million in fiscal year 2021, and Adjusted EBITDAR1 was $103.6 million for fiscal year 2022, compared to $189.3 million in fiscal year 2021.

Mesa’s fiscal year 2022 results reflect a net loss of $182.7 million, or $(5.06) per diluted share, compared to net income of $16.6 million, or $0.43 per diluted share, for fiscal year 2021. Mesa’s fiscal year 2022 adjusted net loss1 was $40.2 million, or $(1.12) per diluted share, versus adjusted net income of $24.6 million, or $0.64per diluted share, in fiscal year 2021. The year over year decrease in adjusted net income of $64.8 million was primarily due to lower block hours, the net impact of the PSP program, change in deferred revenue, and higher pilot training expense.

American Airlines Agreement:

On December 19, 2022, we announced a final agreement with American Airlines to wind-down our contract by April 3, 2023. The wind-down with American Airlines was primarily the result of ongoing losses within the American operation as a result of higher pilot wages, which American would not agree to compensate Mesa for, and utilization penalties.

United Airlines Agreements:

On December 27, 2022, we finalized an amendment and restatement of our capacity purchase agreement with United Airlines. Under the agreement, Mesa will add up to 38 CRJ900 aircraft, dependent on the number E-175s Mesa is operating. Mesa will begin flying CRJ900s on behalf of United in March of 2023 and utilize all of the crew and maintenance locations currently operated for American Airlines in Phoenix, Dallas, El Paso, and Louisville, as well as open a CRJ900 crew base in Houston and a pilot base in Denver. As part of the final agreement, United will also pay Mesa increased block-hour rates to cover the incremental pilot wage increases instituted by Mesa in September 2022, which will remain in effect through September 2025. United will receive a 10% equity position in Mesa and a seat on the Mesa Board of Directors.

Additionally, on December 27, 2022, we finalized an agreement with United for a $41.2 million liquidity facility, including the refinancing of $15.7 million outstanding under our CIT revolving credit facility maturing December 31, 2022, and an additional $25.5 million term loan, of which $15.0 million is forgivable if Mesa achieves certain aircraft utilization thresholds. The collateral for the loan is a combination of aircraft parts and a pledge of our equity investment in Archer Aviation, Inc. and Heart Aerospace Incorporated.

United also agreed to purchase 30 GE-CF34-8 spare engines from Mesa for $80 million, which is expected to provide over $50 million of net cash proceeds and close in Q1 CY2023.

Note: United Airlines has confirmed that it will park up to 38 Embraer E175s due to the Mesa Bombardier CRJ900s joining the United Express fleet according to FlightGlobal. United does not want to violate its scope agreement with its pilots.

Aircraft, Debt, and Lease Activities:

On December 15, 2022, Mesa entered into an agreement with Export Development Canada (“EDC”) to, subject to certain conditions, reduce debt service on seven CRJ-900 aircraft for the period of January 2023 through December 2024, providing approximately $14 million of incremental liquidity during this period. These debt service reductions will be repaid at maturity in December 2027. Additionally, the junior noteholder, MHIRJ, agreed to forgive 50% of its outstanding note balance if the notes are fully repaid prior to December 31, 2023.

On December 16, 2022, Mesa entered into an agreement with RASPRO Trust 2005 (“RASPRO”), which reduces the effective purchase price at or prior to lease termination in March 2024 on 15 CRJ-900s by approximately $25 million.

On December 23, 2022, Mesa entered into an agreement with US Treasury, enabling Mesa to sell certain aircraft and engines, which will provide approximately $24 million of incremental liquidity in Q1 CY2023. These sales include 8 CRJ-550s sold to United, which we expect to close in January 2023, 11 CRJ-900s agreed to be sold to a third party by March 31, 2023, and 6 spare GE CF34 engines. These sales are expected to reduce Mesa’s US Treasury debt by approximately $65 million and reduce annual interest expense by approximately $4.5 million at current rates.

Pilot Initiatives:

The increase in pilot pay implemented during the quarter has significantly reduced attrition and increased our pilot applicant pool. We currently have approximately 400 pilots in our training pipeline.

Liquidity and Capital Resources:

Mesa ended the quarter at $57.7 million in unrestricted cash and equivalents. As of September 30, 2022, the Company had $599.7 million in total debt secured primarily with aircraft and engines.

Mesa Airlines route map (American Eagle routes in red, United Express routes in blue):

Top Copyright Photo: United Express-Mesa Airlines Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N89362 (msn 17000856) IAH (Jarrod Wilkening). Image: 957974.

United Express-Mesa Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

This pre-Christmas travel period will impact many flights in the United States

It is will be very challenging period for pre-Christmas travel in many parts of the United States. Many flights are likely to be cancelled and plans disrupted. An Arctic air mass with cold temperatures, strong winds, icing and snow will move down into the United States creating these areas of travel alerts. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the Great Lakes area making travel very difficult in many areas.

Chicago’s two airports are likely to be very impacted. However many other airline hubs will also be inpacted.

Delta Air Lines has issued these warnings:

Pacific Northwest:

The forecasted path of the Pacific Northwest Winter Weather may impact travel to/from/through the destination(s) listed below. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute information about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your mobile device or by email with One-Time Flight Notification.

Midwest and Central Plains:

The forecasted severe winter weather of Midwest and Central Plains may impact travel to/from/through the destination(s) listed below. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute information about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your mobile device or by email with One-Time Flight Notification.

Atlantic and Northeast Region:

Meanwhile United Airlines issued this travel alert:

North America

Waiver: East Coast Winter Weather

Original ticket must have been purchased by:

December 18, 2022

Original travel dates

December 22, 2022 – December 25, 2022

Flight changes:

The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for United flights departing on or before December 28, 2022, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed. View your reservationand select Change Flight to search for alternate flights.

Rebooking window: December 19, 2022 – December 28, 2022

Airports

  • Akron/Canton, OH (CAK)
  • Albany, NY (ALB)
  • Allentown, PA (ABE)
  • Asheville Regional Airport, NC (AVL)
  • Baltimore, MD (BWI)
  • Bangor, ME (BGR)
  • Boston, MA (BOS)​
  • Buffalo, NY (BUF)
  • Burlington, VT (BTV)
  • Charleston, WV (CRW)
  • Charlotte, NC (CLT)
  • Charlottesville, VA (CHO)
  • Cincinnati, OH (CVG)
  • Cleveland, OH (CLE)
  • Columbus, OH (CMH)
  • Dayton, OH (DAY)
  • Detroit, MI (DTW)
  • Erie, PA (ERI)
  • Flint, MI (FNT)
  • Greensboro, NC (GSO)
  • Harrisburg, PA (MDT)
  • Hartford, CT (BDL)
  • Ithaca, NY (ITH)
  • Johnstown, PA (JST)
  • Knoxville, TN (TYS)
  • Lexington, KY (LEX)
  • Louisville, KY (SDF)
  • Manchester, NH (MHT)
  • Nashville, TN (BNA)
  • New York/Newark, NJ (EWR)
  • New York-Kennedy, NY (JFK)
  • New York-LaGuardia, NY (LGA)
  • Norfolk, VA (ORF)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Portland, ME (PWM)
  • Providence, RI (PVD)
  • Raleigh, NC (RDU)
  • Richmond, VA (RIC)
  • Roanoke, VA (ROA)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Saginaw, MI (MBS)
  • State College, PA (SCE)
  • Syracuse, NY (SYR)
  • Toronto, ON, CA (YYZ)
  • Washington, DC – Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington-National, DC (DCA)
  • White Plains, NY (HPN)
  • Wilkes Barre/Scranton, PA (AVP)
  • Wilmington, NC (ILM)

Waiver: Texas Winter Weather

Original ticket must have been purchased by:

December 18, 2022

Original travel dates

December 22, 2022 – December 25, 2022

Flight changes:

The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for United flights departing on or before December 28, 2022, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed. View your reservationand select Change Flight to search for alternate flights.

Rebooking window: December 19, 2022 – December 28, 2022

Airports

  • Amarillo, TX (AMA)
  • Austin, TX (AUS)
  • Brownsville, TX (BRO)
  • Corpus Christi, TX (CRP)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX (DFW)
  • El Paso, TX (ELP)
  • Harlingen, TX (HRL)
  • Houston, TX (IAH)
  • Laredo, TX (LRD)
  • Lubbock, TX (LBB)
  • McAllen, TX (MFE)
  • Midland, TX (MAF)
  • San Antonio, TX (SAT)
  • Victoria, TX (VCT)

Waiver: Central and Northwest US Winter Weather

Original ticket must have been purchased by:

December 18, 2022

Original travel dates

December 20, 2022 – December 23, 2022

Flight changes:

The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for United flights departing on or before December 28, 2022, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed. View your reservationand select Change Flight to search for alternate flights.

Rebooking window: December 18, 2022 – December 28, 2022

Airports

  • Aspen, CO (ASE)
  • Billings, MT (BIL)
  • Bismarck, ND (BIS)
  • Boise, ID (BOI)
  • Bozeman, MT (BZN)
  • Casper, WY (CPR)
  • Cheyenne, WY (CYS)
  • Cody, WY (COD)
  • Colorado Springs, CO (COS)
  • Denver, CO (DEN)
  • Devils Lake, ND (DVL)
  • Dickinson, ND (DIK)
  • Dodge City, KS (DDC)
  • Durango, CO (DRO)
  • Fargo, ND (FAR)
  • Ft. Collins, CO (FNL)
  • Gillette, WY (GCC)
  • Grand Junction, CO (GJT)
  • Great Falls, MT (GTF)
  • Gunnison, CO (GUC)
  • Hayden, CO (HDN)
  • Hays, KS (HYS)
  • Helena, MT (HLN)
  • Idaho Falls, ID (IDA)
  • Jackson, WY (JAC)
  • Jamestown, ND (JMS)
  • Kalispell, MT (FCA)
  • Laramie, WY (LAR)
  • Lewiston, ID (LWS)
  • Liberal, KS (LBL)
  • Minot, ND (MOT)
  • Missoula, MT (MSO)
  • Moab, UT (CNY)
  • Montrose/Telluride, CO (MTJ)
  • North Platte, NE (LBF)
  • Pasco, WA (PSC)
  • Pueblo, CO (PUB)
  • Rapid City, SD (RAP)
  • Riverton, WY (RIW)
  • Rock Springs, WY (RKS)
  • Salina, KS (SLN)​
  • Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
  • Scottsbluff, NE (BFF)
  • Seattle, WA (SEA)
  • Sheridan, WY (SHR)
  • Spokane, WA (GEG)
  • Sun Valley, ID (SUN)
  • Vail/Eagle, CO (EGE)
  • Vernal, UT (VEL)
  • Wichita, KS (ICT)
  • Williston, ND (XWA)

Waiver: Midwest Winter Weather

Original ticket must have been purchased by:

December 17, 2022

Original travel dates

December 21, 2022 – December 25, 2022

Flight changes:

The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for United flights departing on or before December 30, 2022, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed. View your reservationand select Change Flight to search for alternate flights.

Rebooking window: December 18, 2022 – December 30, 2022

Airports

  • Appleton, WI (ATW)
  • Cedar Rapids, IA (CID)
  • Chicago-O’Hare, IL (ORD)​
  • Decatur, IL (DEC)
  • Des Moines, IA (DSM)
  • Duluth, MN (DLH)
  • Eau Claire, WI (EAU)
  • Fort Dodge, IA (FOD)
  • Fort Wayne, IN (FWA)
  • Grand Rapids, MI (GRR)
  • Green Bay, WI (GRB)
  • Hancock, MI (CMX)
  • Indianapolis, IN (IND)
  • Kansas City, MO (MCI)
  • Lincoln, NE (LNK)
  • Madison, WI (MSN)
  • Mason City, IA (MCW)
  • Milwaukee, WI (MKE)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP)
  • Moline, IL (MLI)
  • Omaha, NE (OMA)
  • Peoria, IL (PIA)
  • Sioux City, IA (SUX)
  • Sioux Falls, SD (FSD)
  • South Bend, IN (SBN)
  • Springfield, IL (SPI)
  • St. Louis, MO (STL)
  • Traverse City, MI (TVC)

Five injured due to ‘severe turbulence’ on United Airlines flight UA128 into Houston

Following the Hawaiin Airlines incident near Honolulu, United Airlines flight UA128 arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston at 5:28 a.m. local time on December 19 after arriving on an overnight flight from Río de Janeiro.

United AIrlines issued this statement:

“United flight UA128 encountered unexpected turbulence while en route to Houston. Upon arrival, two passengers and three crew members were met by medical personnel and taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.”

The flight was operated with Boeing 767-322 ER N651UA (msn 25389).

Top Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 767-322 ER N651UA (msn 25389) LHR (SPA). Image: 944418.

United Airlines aircraft photo gallery (Boeing, 2010 livery:

Former Pan Am and United SOFIA Boeing 747SP retires to the Pima Air and Space Museum

SOFIA made this announcement:

SOFIA Boeing 747SP yesterday (December 13) flew for the last time to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. SOFIA took off for the last time from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California. The pilots performed one last flyby of the area with a wing tilt to acknowledge everyone in the community who has supported and worked on SOFIA. The aircraft landed in Tucson, at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where it will undergo final preparations before it is towed to the museum to eventually be on display to the public.

Composite image of SOFIA aircraft with Orion magnetic fields in the background and a swoosh depicting various mission patches. At the bottom are thumbnails of significant SOFIA science images.
With its observations, SOFIA’s traveled throughout the universe, and the aircraft traveled the world. SOFIA temporarily changed its home of operations 17 times after achieving “first light” to observe time-sensitive phenomena and parts of the sky not readily observable from its home base in Palmdale, California. SOFIA observed a wide variety of objects in our solar system, our galaxy, and beyond. Credit: NASA/SOFIA

SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP jet that was operated out of Armstrong. The SOFIA mission’s operations ended on Sept. 29, 2022 , but the team of incredible and diligent pilots and mechanics continued to support SOFIA as it prepared to go to its new home.

SOFIA is part of NASA’s legacy of airborne astronomy. Building on the successes of the Galileo I aboard a Learjet and the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, SOFIA was developed to provide the astrophysical community unprecedented access to the mid- and far-infrared wavelengths of light. This part of the electromagnetic spectrum is difficult to observe from Earth’s surface, because water in the atmosphere blocks mid- and far-infrared light from reaching the ground. SOFIA, flying above 99.9% of water in the atmosphere, could make observations of a wide variety of phenomena, from to cosmic magnetic fields.

In fact, SOFIA revolutionized the study of cosmic magnetic fields in astrophysics. Other observatories, like ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Planck space observatory, could also detect polarized light and learn how these invisible forces affect galaxies. SOFIA, however, allowed scientists to make observations on much smaller scales. With the HAWC+ instrument, SOFIA probed dark rivers of material, called filaments, where stars start to form. They investigated the “bones” in galactic arms and caught the aftermath of galactic mergers. SOFIA also studied our galaxy and closest galactic companions, the Magellanic clouds.

SOFIA observed cosmic bubbles and how groups of massive stars trigger star formation or quench it, in some cases. SOFIA also could study molecules, making the first-ever detection of helium hydride, the first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe. SOFIA also turned its gaze on things much closer to home, like Venus’s atmosphere, comets, Pluto, and the Moon.

The SOFIA leadership team at NASA would like to share some thoughts:

“We want to express our gratitude to everyone, both our U.S. and German colleagues, who, over the years, developed, tested, and operated the observatory at Ames and Armstrong. It has been an incredible team effort to create and operate the world’s largest airborne observatory. None of this would have been possible without the community of scientists who have used and supported SOFIA over the years. We look forward to hearing everything the SOFIA scientific community learns as we go on. It is with heartfelt thanks that we at NASA say goodbye to SOFIA. We are sad to see you go but so happy to have worked with the SOFIA team.”

SOFIA was a joint project of NASA and the German Space Agency at DLR. DLR provided the telescope, scheduled aircraft maintenance, and other support for the mission. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley managed the SOFIA program, science, and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft was maintained and operated by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Building 703, in Palmdale, California. SOFIA achieved full operational capability in 2014 and concluded its final science flight on Sept. 29, 2022.

The SOFIA aircraft is a Boeing 747SP with a distinguished history. It was originally acquired by Pan American World Airways and was delivered in May 1977. The “SP” designates that this is a special performance, short-body version of the 747, designed for longer flights than the Boeing 747 Classics (747-100, -200, and -300 series jetliners).

Although Pan Am typically named its aircraft after famous clipper ships, they gave this aircraft a special name — the Clipper Lindbergh — in honor of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh’s widow, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, personally christened the aircraft and officially placed it into service on May 6, 1977 — the 50th anniversary of his history-making first solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927.

Above Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 747SP-21 N145UA (msn 21441) MIA (Bruce Drum). Image: 104847.

In February 1986, United Airlines purchased the plane. United removed it from active service in December 1995, and it was purchased by NASA in 1997. The aircraft was substantially modified for its new role as a flying astronomical observatory by L-3 Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas. To ensure proper modification, a dismantled section from another 747SP was used as a full-size mock-up.

On April 26, 2007, SOFIA made its first post-modification flight in the skies over Waco, Texas. It was subsequently flown to Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for continued flight testing, and was rededicated on May 21, 2007, by Erik Lindbergh (Charles Lindbergh’s grandson).

On January 14, 2007, at the end of its closed-door flight testing, SOFIA briefly visited Ames Research Center before continuing on to its permanent flight operations home at the new AFRC-operated Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility (DAOF) in Palmdale, California.

The observatory’s flight envelope was established in a series of missions operating from the DAOF:

  • December 2009: First 100 percent open door flight
  • “First Light” flight achieved in May 2010. The first astronomical targets imaged by SOFIA were the planet Jupiter and the Messier 82 galaxy. The FORCAST instrument was used for these observations.
  • SOFIA made its first flight with the German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, or GREAT, in April 2011.
  • In September 2011, SOFIA made its first transatlantic deployment to Germany.
  • SOFIA deployed to Christchurch, New Zealand, for observations of the southern sky in July 2013.
  • SOFIA studied the comet ISON in November 2013.

Aircraft Modification

The Boeing 747SP that is SOFIA underwent extensive modifications by L-3 Integrated Systems in Waco, Texas, from 1998 to 2007. L-3 Integrated Systems was responsible for the aircraft’s modifications including design engineering, airframe structual modifications, telescope design integration, and flight test activities.

The modification from a commercial jetliner into an airborne observatory included:

  • retrofitting the aircraft’s structual support system
  • creating a cavity in the aircraft to house the telescope
  • installing all required support systems
  • retrofitting the interior to provide working areas for scientist and educators.

Installing a 2.7-meter telescope in an airplane had never been done before and the modifications necessary posed many complex and challenging problems for the engineers. One of the most challenging problems is keeping the aircraft steady while flying with a 20-ton telescope in a huge cavity in the rear of the plane that is opened to the sky.

Top Copyright Photo: NASA Boeing 747SP-21 N747NA (msn 21441) (SOFIA) CGN (Rainer Bexten). Image: 954602.

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Boom Supersonic announces Symphony™, the sustainable and cost-efficient engine for Overture

Boom Supersonic, the company building the world’s fastest airliner, today announced Symphony, a new propulsion system designed and optimized for its Overture supersonic airliner. Boom also announced that it will be teaming with three industry leaders to develop Symphony including Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT) for engine design, GE Additive for additive technology design consulting, and StandardAero for maintenance.

Symphony will be a bespoke design leveraging proven technologies and materials to achieve optimal supersonic performance and efficiency. Overture’s new propulsion system will operate at net zero carbon and meet Chapter 14 noise levels. When compared to derivative approaches, Symphony is expected to deliver a 25% increase in time on wing and significantly lower engine maintenance costs, reducing overall airplane operating costs for airline customers by 10%.

“United and Boom share a passion for making the world dramatically more accessible through sustainable supersonic travel,” said Mike Leskinen, President, United Airlines Ventures. “The team at Boom understands what we need to create a compelling experience for our passengers, and we are looking forward to a United supersonic fleet powered by Symphony.”

Symphony Collaboration

Boom has selected Florida Turbine Technologies, a business unit of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., as its engine design team. FTT has leading supersonic engine design expertise, including key engineers among the team responsible for the design of the F-119 and F-135 supersonic engines that power the F-22 and F-35.

Boom also announced that GE Additive will collaborate on the Symphony program. Symphony will benefit from GE Additive’s proven track record of designing additively manufactured engine components—enabling more streamlined development, reduced weight, and improved fuel efficiency.

Additionally, StandardAero, one of the aerospace industry’s largest independent maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) providers, will ensure that Symphony is designed for maintainability. Boom’s collaboration with StandardAero aims to deliver reliable and economical operations, and provision of maintenance services for the life of the aircraft. Boom will also benefit from StandardAero’s experience as an assembler of supersonic engines.

Symphony Technical Overview

Symphony will be a medium-bypass turbofan engine with the same basic engine architecture that currently powers all modern commercial aircraft. Unlike subsonic turbofans, this new propulsion system will include a Boom-designed axisymmetric supersonic intake, a variable-geometry low-noise exhaust nozzle, and a passively cooled high-pressure turbine.

Engine design features to include:

  • Architecture: twin-spool, medium-bypass turbofan engine, no afterburner
  • Thrust: 35,000lbs at takeoff
  • Fuel: optimized for 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel
  • Single-stage fan designed for quiet operation
  • Passively cooled high-pressure turbine
  • Additive manufacturing for low weight, low part count, and reduced assembly costs
  • Certification: compliant with FAA and EASA Part 33 requirements

Overture Program Schedule

With Symphony design already underway, Overture is on track to achieve type certification in 2029. Production is set to commence in 2024 at Overture’s Superfactory in Greensboro, NC, with rollout in 2026 and first flight in 2027.

United Airlines and Boeing finalize 737 MAX and 787 order, including record purchase for 100 Dreamliners

Image credit: Boeing

Boeing and United Airlines today announced the carrier is investing in its future fleet with an order for 100 787 airplanes, with the option to purchase 100 more.

The deal is the largest 787 Dreamliner order in Boeing history. United is also purchasing 100 737 MAX jets, exercising 44 existing options and placing 56 new orders.

The airline’s current orders for Boeing jets have surpassed 530, including more than 430 737 MAX airplanes.

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United is in negotiations for additional Boeing 787 Dreamliners, order to be announced on December 13

United Airlines is reportedly in negotiations with Boeing for a follow-up order for more Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The prospective order could be for up to 125 aircraft including options.

The order is a replacement order for aging Boeing aircraft, especially the 767-300s, 767-400s and 777-200s.

United currently operates 12 Boeing 787-8s, 38 787-9s and 16 787-10s.

The large order will be announced on Tuesday, December 13, 2022 at North Charleston, SC.

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Top Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N25982 (msn 66139) LHr (Ton Jochems). Image: 959569.

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United to open two new crew bases

United Airlines will open a new crew base in Las Vegas with 204 pilots and in Orlando with 300 pilots in May 2023.

Top Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 737-724 SSWL N14731 (msn 28799) SNA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 959532.

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United Airlines invests in Natron Energy, to further electrifying ground operations

United Airlines today announced a strategic equity investment in Natron Energy, a battery manufacturer whose sodium-ion batteries have the potential to help United electrify its airport ground equipment like pushback tractors and operations at the gate. United has made substantial investments in companies developing technology to reduce aircraft emissions, but Natron is the first that has the potential to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint from United’s ground operations.

United has more than 12,000 pieces of motorized ground equipment across its operations, of which about one third are currently electric. Natron’s batteries could potentially be deployed in support of a number of uses, including:

  • Charging electric ground equipment
  • Charging anticipated future electric aircraft such as electric air taxis
  • Allowing airport operations to manage electricity demand
  • Greatly improving resiliency related to inclement weather

The sodium-ion batteries contain several features that distinguish them from existing battery technology. In addition to better output and cycle life than their lithium counterparts, testing performed by an independent testing service has shown these batteries to be nonflammable, a critical safeguard for the high usage and power that would be required for certain operations. The minerals used in sodium-ion batteries are abundant worldwide and are easily sourced, unlike lithium which is in short supply with demand expected to triple by 2025.

Natron plans to use the funds to accelerate production at its manufacturing facility in Holland, Michigan, where it will scale operations to begin mass production of UL-listed sodium-ion batteries in 2023.

Launched in 2021, UAV is a first-of-its-kind sustainability-focused ventures fund that targets startups, upcoming technologies, and concepts that will complement United’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – without relying on traditional carbon offsets such as planting trees. UAV’s portfolio now includes SAF producers and other technologies including carbon utilization, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility.

Top Copyright Photo: United Airlines Boeing 777-224 ER N78005 (msn 27581) MUC (Gunter Mayer). Image: 959482.

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