United Continental reports higher earnings despite MAX crisis

New York (AFP) –


United Continental reported higher second-quarter profits Tuesday as strong demand for flying offset the hit from the ground of the Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The airline has been forced to cancel thousands of flights due to the MAX crisis, but still raised its profit forecast for the year due to soaring demand for air travel.

Net income jumped 54 percent to $1.1 billion, as revenues climbed 5.8 percent to $11.4 billion.

Key revenue benchmarks suggested United has been able to keep fares elevated during the April-June quarter, which includes part of the peak summer travel season.

Yet United and other carriers have taken a hit from the MAX, after the aircraft was grounded in mid-March following two crashes that claimed 346 lives.

United last week extended its 737 MAX cancellations to November 3, saying it will "continue to take extraordinary steps to protect our customers' travel plans" while eliminating thousands of flights from the schedule over the four-month stretch.

The company has not broken out a financial estimate for the impact of the 737 MAX, but announced Tuesday that it signed an agreement to buy 19 used Boeing 737-700 aircraft that will be delivered starting in December.

On Tuesday, Irish carrier Ryanair slashed its growth outlook and said it would temporarily shut operations at some airports due to delays in 737 MAX deliveries.

Shares of United Continental rose 0.5 percent in after-hours trading to $94.36.

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