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United Airlines arrives at “watershed moment”

CHICAGO: April 17, 2017. United Airlines has reported a 69.3 percent drop in net income to US$96 million for the first quarter of 2017, on a 2.7 percent rise in revenue to US$8.4 billion year-on-year.

Cargo revenue rose 13.4 percent compared to the same period in 2016 to reach US$220 million, as cargo ton-miles increased 20.3 percent for the quarter.

Net operating profit after tax for the rolling 12-month period ending in March was US$4.94 billion.

UNITEDDuring the quarter the airline also recorded a US$21 million severance cost associated with a voluntary early-out program for 1,000 Teamsters' union employees through early 2019.

Commenting on the financial results UAL CEO Oscar Munoz said it was obvious the airline needed to do a much better job serving its customers: "The incident that took place aboard Flight 3411 has been a humbling experience, and I take full responsibility.

"This will prove to be a watershed moment for our company, and we are more determined than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do. We are dedicated to setting the standard for customer service among U.S. airlines, as we elevate the experience our customers have with us from booking to baggage claim," he added.

During the quarter the airline was named 'Eco-Airline of the Year' (right) for its leadership in environmental action; took delivery of six B777-300ER aircraft, two B787-9 and one A319; and began adding service to 31 destinations across the U.S. and to Europe as employees earned US$18 million in cash-incentive payments for achieving performance goals.

In a related announcement, UAL and Lufthansa Cargo have agreed to "extensive cargo cooperation" including capacity management, booking and handling on routes between the U.S. and Europe.

The carriers said their proposed joint venture, following an I.T. systems alignment, would provide customers with more than 600 direct connections per week between the U.S. and Europe later this year.

"We are excited about the benefits that will be generated by our teams' cooperation and our combined capacities," said Jan Krems, president of United Cargo. "Cargo customers will appreciate the opportunities for quicker and easier shipping between key locations in the U.S. and Europe."

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