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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
FORM10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
    For the transition period from                      to              
  unitedcoverlogoa01.jpg
    
Commission
File Number
Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter,
Principal Executive Office Address and Telephone Number
State of
Incorporation
I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.
001-06033United Airlines Holdings, Inc.Delaware36-2675207
233 South Wacker Drive,Chicago,Illinois60606
(872) 825-4000
001-10323United Airlines, Inc.Delaware74-2099724
233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago,Illinois60606
(872)825-4000
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 Title of Each ClassTrading SymbolName of Each Exchange on Which Registered
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.Common Stock, $0.01 par valueUALThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Preferred Stock Purchase RightsNoneThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
United Airlines, Inc.NoneNoneNone
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.None
United Airlines, Inc.None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.YesNoUnited Airlines, Inc.YesNo
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.YesNoUnited Airlines, Inc.YesNo
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.YesNoUnited Airlines, Inc.YesNo
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this Chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). 
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.YesNoUnited Airlines, Inc.YesNo
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.Large accelerated filerAccelerated filerNon-accelerated filerSmaller reporting companyEmerging growth company
United Airlines, Inc.Large accelerated filerAccelerated filerNon-accelerated filerSmaller reporting companyEmerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.United Airlines, Inc.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.United Airlines, Inc.
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.United Airlines, Inc.
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.United Airlines, Inc.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.YesNoUnited Airlines, Inc.YesNo
The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of United Airlines Holdings, Inc. was $17.9 billion as of June 30, 2023 based on the closing sale price of $54.87 on that date. There is no market for United Airlines, Inc. common stock.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant's classes of common stock, as of February 22, 2024.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.328,025,881shares of common stock ($0.01 par value)
United Airlines, Inc.1,000shares of common stock ($0.01 par value) (100% owned by United Airlines Holdings, Inc.)
This combined Form 10-K is separately filed by United Airlines Holdings, Inc. and United Airlines, Inc.
OMISSION OF CERTAIN INFORMATION
United Airlines, Inc. meets the conditions set forth in General Instruction I(1)(a) and (b) of Form 10-K and is therefore filing this form with the reduced disclosure format allowed under that General Instruction.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain information required by Items 10, 11, 12 and 13 of Part III of this Form 10-K is incorporated by reference for United Airlines Holdings, Inc. from its definitive proxy statement for its 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.


Table of Contents
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. and Subsidiary Companies
United Airlines, Inc. and Subsidiary Companies
Annual Report on Form 10-K
For the Year Ended December 31, 2023
 
  Page
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 1C.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
Item 9C.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.


Table of Contents
This Annual Report on Form 10-K ("Form 10-K") contains various "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"). Forward-looking statements represent our expectations and beliefs concerning future results or events, based on information available to us on the date of the filing of this Form 10-K, and are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those referenced in the forward-looking statements are listed in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors and in Part II, Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. We disclaim any intent or obligation to update or revise any of the forward-looking statements, whether in response to new information, unforeseen events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.
PART I

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS.
Overview
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "UAL" or the "Company") is a holding company and its wholly-owned subsidiary is United Airlines, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "United"). United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. 
As UAL consolidates United for financial statement purposes, disclosures that relate to activities of United also apply to UAL, unless otherwise noted. United's operating revenues and operating expenses comprise nearly 100% of UAL's revenues and operating expenses. In addition, United comprises approximately the entire balance of UAL's assets, liabilities and operating cash flows. When appropriate, UAL and United are named specifically for their individual contractual obligations and related disclosures and any significant differences between the operations and results of UAL and United are separately disclosed and explained. We sometimes use the words "we," "our," "us," and the "Company" in this report for disclosures that relate to all of UAL and United.
The Company's principal executive office is located at 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606 (telephone number (872) 825-4000). The Company's website is located at www.united.com and its investor relations website is located at ir.united.com. The information contained on or connected to the Company's websites is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K and should not be considered part of this or any other report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). The Company's filings with the SEC, including annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports, as well as UAL's proxy statement for its annual meeting of stockholders, are accessible without charge on the Company's investor relations website, as soon as reasonably practicable, after we electronically file such material with, or furnish such material to, the SEC pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Such filings are also available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.
Operations
The Company transports people and cargo throughout North America and to destinations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America. UAL, through United and its regional carriers, operates across six continents, with hubs at Chicago O'Hare International Airport ("ORD"), Denver International Airport ("DEN"), George Bush Intercontinental Airport ("IAH"), Los Angeles International Airport ("LAX"), Newark Liberty International Airport ("EWR"), San Francisco International Airport ("SFO"), Washington Dulles International Airport ("IAD") and A.B. Won Pat International Airport ("GUM").
All of the Company's domestic hubs are located in large business and population centers, contributing to a large amount of "origin and destination" traffic. The hub and spoke system allows us to transport passengers between a large number of destinations with substantially more frequent service than if each route were served directly. The hub system also allows us to add service to a new destination from a large number of cities using only one or a limited number of aircraft. As discussed under Alliances below, United is a member of Star Alliance, the world's largest alliance network.
United Next. Our United Next plan is our fundamental strategic evolution for driving future growth that we believe will have a transformational effect on the customer experience and earnings power of our business. As part of our United Next plan, in September 2023, United exercised options to purchase 50 Boeing 787-9 aircraft scheduled for delivery between 2028 and 2031 and was granted options to purchase up to an additional 50 Boeing 787 aircraft. In addition, United exercised purchase rights to purchase 60 A321neo aircraft scheduled for delivery between 2028 and 2030 and was granted purchase rights to purchase up to
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an additional 40 A321neo aircraft. We now expect to take delivery of over 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2033.
Our groundbreaking United Next strategy is expected to increase United's average gauge in North America, to increase the total number of available seats per departure and to significantly lower carbon emissions per seat. United is in the process of retrofitting its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat, larger overhead bins for every passenger's carry-on bag and the industry's fastest available in-flight Wi-Fi, as well as a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting. The carrier's international widebodies will feature the United Polaris® business class seat as well as United Premium Plus® seating. The Company plans to replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft, which we expect will lead to fuel efficiency benefits compared to older planes, including an expected 17-25% lower carbon emissions per seat compared to older planes. We believe that United Next will allow us to differentiate our network and segment our products with a greater premium offering while also maintaining fare competitiveness with low-cost carriers.
Regional. The Company's business and operations are dependent on its regional flight network, with regional capacity accounting for approximately 6% of the Company's total capacity for the year ended December 31, 2023. The Company has contractual relationships with various regional carriers to provide regional aircraft service branded as United Express. This regional service complements our operations by carrying traffic that connects to our hubs and allows flights to smaller cities that cannot be provided economically with mainline aircraft. CommuteAir LLC ("CommuteAir"), GoJet Airlines LLC ("GoJet"), Mesa Airlines, Inc. ("Mesa"), Republic Airways Inc. ("Republic") and SkyWest Airlines, Inc. ("SkyWest") are all regional carriers that operate with capacity contracted to United under capacity purchase agreements ("CPAs"). Under these CPAs, the Company pays the regional carriers contractually agreed fees (carrier costs) for operating these flights plus a variable rate adjustment based on agreed performance metrics, subject to annual adjustments. The fees are based on specific rates multiplied by specific operating statistics (e.g., block hours, departures), as well as fixed monthly amounts. Under these CPAs, the Company is also responsible for all fuel costs incurred, as well as landing fees and other costs, which are either passed through by the regional carrier to the Company without any markup or directly incurred by the Company. In some cases, the Company owns some or all of the aircraft subject to the CPA and leases such aircraft to the regional carrier. In return, the regional carriers operate the capacity of the aircraft included within the scope of such CPA exclusively for United, on schedules determined by the Company. The Company also determines pricing and revenue management, assumes the inventory and distribution risk for the available seats and permits mileage accrual and redemption for regional flights through its MileagePlus loyalty program.
Alliances. United is a member of Star Alliance, a global integrated airline network and the largest and most comprehensive airline alliance in the world. In 2023, Star Alliance carriers continued to serve more than 1,200 airports in 186 countries with over 16,000 average daily departures. Star Alliance members, in addition to United, are Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways ("ANA"), Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A. (Avianca), Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Air Portugal, THAI Airways International and Turkish Airlines. In addition to its members, during 2023, Star Alliance included Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines and Thailand-based Thai Smile Airways, a subsidiary of THAI Airways International, as connecting partners and Germany-based Deutsche Bahn, a rail company, as an intermodal partner.
United has a variety of bilateral commercial alliance agreements and obligations with Star Alliance members, addressing, among other things, reciprocal earning and redemption of frequent flyer miles, access to airport lounges and, with certain Star Alliance members, codesharing of flight operations (whereby one carrier's selected flights can be marketed under the brand name of another carrier). In addition to the alliance agreements with Star Alliance members, United currently maintains independent alliance agreements with other air carriers, including Aer Lingus, Air Dolomiti, Airlink, Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, Boutique Air, Cape Air, Discover Airlines, Emirates, Eurowings, flydubai, Hawaiian Airlines, JetSuiteX, Olympic Air, Silver Airways, Virgin Australia Airlines and Vistara.
United also participates in four passenger joint business arrangements ("JBAs"): one with Air Canada and the Lufthansa Group (which includes Lufthansa and its affiliates Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Discover Airlines, Edelweiss, Eurowings and SWISS) covering transatlantic routes, one with ANA covering certain transpacific routes, one with Air New Zealand covering certain routes between the United States and New Zealand, and one with Air Canada covering certain United States and Canada transborder routes. These passenger JBAs enable the participating carriers to integrate the services they provide in the respective regions, capturing revenue synergies and delivering enhanced customer benefits, such as highly competitive flight schedules, fares and services. Separate from the passenger JBAs, United is also a party to cargo JBAs with ANA for transpacific cargo services and with Lufthansa for transatlantic cargo services. These cargo JBAs offer expanded and more seamless access to cargo space across the carriers' respective combined networks.
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Loyalty Program. United's MileagePlus loyalty program builds customer loyalty by offering awards, benefits and services to program participants. Members in this program earn miles for flights on United, United Express, Star Alliance members and certain other airlines that participate in the program. Members can also earn miles by purchasing goods and services from our network of non-airline partners, such as domestic and international credit card issuers, retail merchants, hotels and car rental companies. Members can redeem miles for free (other than taxes and government-imposed fees), discounted or upgraded travel and non-travel awards.
United has an agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase"), pursuant to which members of United's MileagePlus loyalty program who are residents of the United States can earn miles for making purchases using a MileagePlus credit card issued by Chase (the "Co-Brand Agreement"). The Co-Brand Agreement also provides for joint marketing and other support for the MileagePlus credit card and provides Chase with other benefits such as permission to market to the Company's customer database.
In 2023, approximately 7.4 million MileagePlus flight awards were used on United and United Express. These awards represented approximately 8.1% of United's total revenue passenger miles. Total miles redeemed for flights on United and United Express, including class-of-service upgrades, represented approximately 92% of the total miles redeemed. In addition, excluding miles redeemed for flights on United and United Express, MileagePlus members redeemed miles for approximately 2.4 million other awards. These awards include United Club memberships, car and hotel awards, merchandise and flights on other air carriers.
Air Cargo. United provides freight and mail transportation services (air cargo). The majority of air cargo services are provided to commercial businesses, freight forwarders, logistics firms and national postal services. Through our global network, our air cargo operations are able to connect the world's major freight gateways. We generate air cargo revenues in domestic and international markets through the use of cargo space on regularly scheduled passenger flights, as well as through interline and ground trucking arrangements.
Distribution Channels. The Company's airline seat inventory and fares are distributed through the Company's direct channels, traditional travel agencies and online travel agencies ("OTA"). The use of the Company's direct sales website, www.united.com, the Company's mobile applications and alternative distribution systems provides the Company with an opportunity to de-commoditize its services, better present its content, make more targeted offerings, better retain its customers, enhance its brand and lower its ticket distribution costs. Agency sales are primarily sold using global distribution systems ("GDS"). United has developed and expects to continue to develop capabilities to sell certain ancillary products through the GDS channel to provide an enhanced buying experience for customers who purchase in that channel.
Third-Party Business. United generates third-party business revenue that includes maintenance services, frequent flyer award non-travel redemptions, flight academy and ground handling.
Aircraft Fuel. The table below summarizes the fuel consumption and expense of UAL's aircraft (including the operations of our regional partners operating under CPAs) during the last three years.
YearGallons Consumed
(in millions)
Fuel Expense
(in millions)
Average Price Per GallonPercentage of Total Operating Expense
20234,205 $12,651 $3.01 26 %
20223,608 $13,113 $3.63 31 %
20212,729 $5,755 $2.11 22 %
Our operational and financial results can be significantly impacted by changes in the price and availability of aircraft fuel. The Company routinely enters into purchase contracts based on expected fuel requirements for UAL aircraft (including regional partners operating under CPAs) that are generally indexed to various market price benchmarks for aircraft fuel. These contracts customarily do not provide material protection against changes in market prices or guarantee the uninterrupted availability of adequate quantities of aircraft fuel. The price of aircraft fuel used by our operations has fluctuated substantially in the past several years. The Company's current strategy is to not enter into financial transactions to hedge the market price exposure of its expected fuel consumption, although the Company regularly reviews its strategy based on market conditions and other factors.
Industry Conditions
Domestic Competition. The domestic airline industry is highly competitive and dynamic. The Company's competitors consist primarily of other airlines and, to a certain extent, other forms of transportation. Currently, any U.S. carrier deemed fit by the U.S. Department of Transportation (the "DOT") is largely free to operate scheduled passenger service between any two points within the United States. Competition can be direct, in the form of another carrier flying the exact non-stop route, or indirect, where a carrier serves the same two cities non-stop from an alternative airport in that city or via an itinerary requiring a
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connection at another airport. Air carriers' cost structures are not uniform and are influenced by numerous factors. Carriers with lower costs may offer lower fares to passengers, which could have a potential negative impact on the Company's revenues. Domestic pricing decisions are impacted by intense competitive pressure exerted on the Company by other U.S. airlines. In order to remain competitive and maintain passenger traffic levels, we often find it necessary to match competitors' discounted fares.
International Competition. Internationally, the Company competes not only with U.S. airlines, but also with foreign carriers. International competition has increased and may continue to increase in the future as a result of airline mergers and acquisitions, JBAs, alliances, restructurings, liberalization of aviation bilateral agreements and new or increased service by competitors. Competition on international routes is subject to varying degrees of governmental regulation. The Company's ability to compete successfully with non-U.S. carriers on international routes depends in part on its ability to generate traffic to and from the entire United States via its integrated domestic route network and its ability to overcome business and operational challenges across its network worldwide. Foreign carriers currently are prohibited by U.S. law from carrying local passengers between two points in the United States and the Company generally experiences comparable restrictions in foreign countries. Separately, "fifth freedom rights" allow the Company to operate between points in two different foreign countries and foreign carriers may also have fifth freedom rights between the U.S. and another foreign country. In the absence of fifth freedom rights, or some other extra-bilateral right to conduct operations between two foreign countries, U.S. carriers are constrained from carrying passengers to points beyond designated international gateway cities. To compensate partially for these structural limitations, U.S. and foreign carriers have entered into alliances, immunized JBAs and marketing arrangements that enable these carriers to exchange traffic between each other's flights and route networks. Through these arrangements, the Company strives to provide consumers with a growing number of seamless, cost-effective and convenient travel options. See "Alliances" for additional information.
Seasonality. The air travel business is subject to seasonal fluctuations. Historically, demand for air travel is higher in the second and third quarters, driving higher revenues, than in the first and fourth quarters, which are periods of lower travel demand.
Environmental, Social and Governance Approach
At United "Good Leads the Way" is more than a slogan; it fuels our mission to build the world's biggest and best airline. Our employees around the world are joined together to enable connections that matter and move society—whether it is connecting people across cultures, flying a loved one to a wedding, connecting medical professionals at a breakthrough conference or getting a business traveler to an important meeting or back home in time for a child’s big game.
Today United is viewed not only as a leader among our peer airlines but as a leader among the world's largest corporations. Our leadership is driven by our desire to blaze new trails by being a force for good, be responsive to the world in which we operate, be responsible for our actions and be committed to doing the right thing. United has devoted its brand, reputation, resources, time and effort to pursuing corporate responsibility goals aimed to generate the most impactful results that we can create. Simply, we aspire to use our influence and scale to lead in a way that inspires the world to action. Over the last few years, we have made historic investments to fight climate change and provided career opportunities to thousands of people.
We set forth below three of our Environmental, Social and Governance focus areas.
Safety Culture
At United, safety is first in everything we do and is our first service standard of Core4 (we are safe, then caring, dependable and efficient). We are focused on promoting our safety culture to help ensure that every employee across United holds each other to the highest safety standards. Our "No Small Roles in Safety" strategy as part of our Safety Management System ("SMS") is designed to imbue every employee with an understanding of his or her significant responsibility in our collective ambition to ensure the highest level of safety performance for our customers and employees. Our laser focus on safety is not only essential to our success but also foundational to our culture.
We continue to evaluate and expand our SMS to incorporate new areas of the business to manage risk as we navigate this exciting time at United with the growth in our aircraft fleet and the increasing number of destinations that we plan to serve. Our improved SMS allows us to proactively identify hazards and mitigate risks to help ensure the safety of our customers and our employees as we grow. In addition, just as we have invested in infrastructure, technology and tools, we are also investing in the training and development of our employees, especially those who are new to United, to help ensure they gain proficiency in their roles and stay safe in the workplace.
Our approach to safety is centered around three components:
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1.United SMS: Continuously investing in infrastructure, technology, tools, voluntary safety reporting and training that are built among the key components of our safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion.
2.Safety in Action: Improving safety through development of robust, proactive safety programs and standards.
3.Safety Data and Innovation: Identifying and mitigating safety hazards through strong data analytics and new technologies and processes.
Environmental Sustainability Strategy
The Company's commitment to operating an environmentally sustainable and responsible airline is woven into its long-term strategy and values. The Company believes that it is critical, now more than ever, to continue to serve its purpose of connecting people and uniting the world and is committed to finding solutions, both individually as a company and together with partners in both the private and public sectors, to do so sustainably and responsibly while also achieving its financial goals. The Company is continuously looking for new ways to reduce its environmental impact in the air, on the ground and at its facilities, which benefits its employees, customers and stockholders. At the end of 2020, the Company pledged a net zero goal to reduce its greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions by 100% by 2050 without relying on the use of voluntary carbon offsets. United was the first airline globally to make such a commitment without relying on the use of voluntary carbon offsets. Given the airline industry's designation as a 'hard-to-abate sector', the Company is committed to tackling the root causes of its GHG emissions—primarily combustion of conventional jet fuel—so that it can realize meaningful, long-lasting change that supports a more sustainable future. The Company believes that not relying on voluntary carbon offsets that assert to accomplish emissions reductions out-of-sector is important and the right priority because the airline industry should focus on decarbonization within its own activities as the industry cannot afford to divert resources and attention toward voluntary carbon offset programs that do not effectuate real progress within aviation operations.
The Company's earnest intention on meeting the net zero GHG emissions goal by 2050 led the Company to commit to a mid-term target of reducing, compared to 2019, its carbon emissions intensity by 50% by 2035. This intensity target is intended to align the Company's net zero goal with the temperature limit goals of the Paris Agreement and allow the Company to show progress towards its 2050 net zero GHG emissions goal in the nearer term. This 2035 target received independent validation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in May 2023.
The Company is committed to redefining the future of air travel with environmental sustainability and responsibility at the forefront because it believes that it is the Company's responsibility to take tangible steps to mitigate climate change impacts from its operations. In addition, the Company's climate goals and overall climate strategy are increasingly important factors in its relationships with its employees, stockholders, customers and other stakeholders. Its strategy to achieve its climate goals is centered around four key pathways, each of which is described in further detail below: (i) emitting less GHGs; (ii) adopting more sustainable alternatives to conventional jet fuel; (iii) making improvements to its operations beyond its flights; and (iv) collaborating with employees, customers, airports, suppliers, cross-industry partners and policymakers to facilitate faster action and commercializing technology solutions designed to address climate change. The Company's Board of Directors (the "Board"), including through its Public Responsibility Committee, provides oversight of its environmental sustainability and climate-related strategic goals and objectives to ensure integration with its core business strategy. Management periodically updates the Board on the implementation of the Company's climate-related strategic goals and objectives. The Board, including through its Public Responsibility Committee, also oversees management's identification, evaluation and monitoring of environmental (including climate-related) trends, issues, concerns, risks and opportunities that affect or could affect the Company's reputation, business activities, strategies and performance.
Emitting Less GHGs: As part of this plan, the Company is focused on improving fuel efficiency and reducing GHG emissions in its operations. Its main focus in realizing this objective is reducing its conventional jet fuel consumption, which is both the largest contributor to its environmental footprint and a sizable expense for the Company. To do so, the Company is prioritizing the introduction of newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft into its fleet as part of its United Next plan as well as improving the fuel efficiency of its existing fleet. The United Next aircraft ordered will reduce United's per-seat carbon emissions by approximately 20% compared to the older models they will replace.
In conjunction with improving the fuel efficiency of its fleet, the Company has been incorporating fuel efficiency considerations within flight and ground operations, including implementing operational and procedural initiatives designed to drive fuel conservation. The Company has worked collaboratively across its organization and with Air Traffic Control ("ATC") providers to strive to improve fuel efficiency through the implementation of best practices and by training its pilots and dispatchers and supplying them with the necessary tools to execute those strategies.
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The Company, through the aerospace-focused investment vertical, of its corporate venture capital arm, United Airlines Ventures, Ltd. ("UAV"), also has been collaborating with, as well as investing in, early-stage climate technology companies that focus on lower carbon alternative propulsion technologies.
Adopting More Sustainable Alternatives to Conventional Jet Fuel: We believe that large-scale adoption of sustainable aviation fuel ("SAF") in our operations is critical to achieving our net zero GHG target. SAF is an alternative to conventional jet fuel and its potential to scale is due to its 'drop-in' readiness, which means it can be used in current operations with existing aircraft and infrastructure without alterations required. The Company is working with strategic partners to scale, employ and commercialize the use of SAF as the Company believes that it is the most promising technology solution in development to date that can help abate emissions from the Company's flight operations. SAF is intended to reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 85% compared with conventional jet fuel and has the added benefits of having a limited impact on performance or safety, reducing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and soot particle emissions as well as providing energy diversification.
While the Company is an aviation leader in investing in future SAF production, SAF supply in the jet fuel market is currently constrained and represents, according to industry estimates, far less than 1% of global commercial aviation fuel usage. Additionally, the purchase of SAF today comes with a price premium, compared to conventional jet fuel, to account for the additional costs of scaling and producing this early-stage solution. As a result, as of December 31, 2023, the total volume of SAF the Company used in its operations remained less than 0.1% of its total aviation fuel usage. These challenges with present-day SAF have informed the Company's strategy of investing in SAF producers and technology to help scale the SAF market and unlock future supply for the Company.
The Company has an established history in the investment in, and use of, SAF. Beginning in 2015, the Company made its first investment in a company working to commercialize SAF production. In 2016, the Company became the first airline globally to start using SAF in its regular operations on an ongoing basis at various airports. The Company has progressed its SAF strategy with several notable milestones, including the following:
In 2021 the Company launched its first-of-its-kind Eco-Skies Alliance program for corporations to help advance the SAF market by working with the Company to fund the price premium for SAF. The Company also established UAV, a corporate venture capital arm that seeks to invest in promising sustainable aviation technologies and innovation to usher in the future of air travel. Additionally, the Company made aviation history by operating the first passenger flight using 100% SAF in one engine from Chicago to Washington, D.C.
In 2022 the Company signed a purchase agreement with Neste for up to 52.5 million gallons of SAF at domestic and international stations, becoming the first U.S. airline to execute an international purchase agreement for SAF.
In 2023 the Company launched, through UAV, the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund (the "Fund") to support start-ups focused on accelerating the research, production and technologies associated with SAF. The Fund began in February 2023 with more than $100 million in commitments from United and five limited partners. As of February 2024, the Fund has since increased in size to more than $200 million in committed capital among a total of 22 corporate partners.
Improving Our Operations Beyond Our Flights: The Company recognizes that its responsibility to address its environmental impact extends beyond the emissions generated from flights to operations across its enterprise. The Company is focused on embedding sustainability within its operations, strengthening cross-functional teams and working on initiatives intended to drive more sustainable operations while maintaining efficiencies across the business.
United continues to progress its strategic electrification of ground service equipment ("GSE") across its hubs and stations. As of the end of 2023, over 4,650 units of the Company's GSE around the world are electric, representing approximately 35% of its GSE fleet. Electrifying its fleet is integral to the Company achieving its long-term sustainability goals and the Company is committed to strategically addressing the GHG emissions from our ground operations. In early 2023, United took delivery of two Goldhofer AST-E Phoenix electric towbarless tractors for use at LAX. The Company was the first airline in North America to own and operate such equipment.
Collaborating with Partners: The Company recognizes it cannot achieve its climate targets alone. The Company has devoted a significant amount of time and energy to defining a better future of flying by collaborating with employees, customers, airports, suppliers, cross-industry partners and policymakers across its value chain to scale the supply of SAF, invest in decarbonization technology solutions, minimize its environmental impact and protect the environment,
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all of which are key to advancing the Company's climate goals. Some of the Company's highlights in this area include the following:
The Company has historically supported the adoption of more aggressive industry targets and worked with both Airlines for America ("A4A") and the International Air Transport Association to drive adoption of industry-wide net-zero emissions targets by 2050 for domestic and international carriers, respectively. In addition, the Company worked with other airlines, low-carbon fuel producers and other stakeholders from across the SAF value chain to support the Biden Administration's SAF Grand Challenge to collectively make 3 billion gallons of SAF available domestically by 2030.
The Company is a founding member of the Biden Administration's First Movers Coalition, a collective of leading companies committing to purchase low-carbon technologies in hard-to-abate sectors. As part of its membership, the Company has committed to using emerging technologies with significant emissions reductions by 2030 and has also set a target of replacing at least 5% of conventional jet fuel demand with SAF that reduces lifecycle GHG emissions by 85% or more compared with conventional jet fuel by 2030.
The Company worked with federal policymakers to champion passage of new production tax credits for SAF in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (the "IRA"). These credits create an economic incentive for increased SAF production within the United States.
The Company led a cross-sectoral effort to incentivize SAF in Illinois, lowering the overall cost of SAF for consumption at the state level. The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Purchase Credit was enacted in Illinois in February 2023 and became effective in mid-2023.
In 2023, the Company evolved its GHG reporting to align with corporate best practices around GHG accounting protocols, including anticipated updates in accounting guidance from SBTi and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This revised reporting methodology allows us to provide greater transparency around the aircraft's GHG emissions from burning conventional jet fuel and SAF. Biogenic GHG emissions from SAF are not reported as Scope 1-3 emissions. The Company believes that its absolute GHG emissions will increase in the immediate future as the Company continues to grow. In addition, even though purchasing voluntary carbon offsets could present near-term emissions reductions, as outlined above, the Company is resolute in attaining its mid-term and long-term climate goals without relying on the use of voluntary carbon offsets to support its climate targets and has made progress towards implementing solutions that the Company believes are needed to permanently change aviation and reduce the environmental impact of air travel to protect our planet for generations to come. Such commitment is demonstrated by the end of the Company's customer offset program and elimination of emission reductions realized by carbon offsets as reflected in its GHG inventory. Additional quantitative emissions data for fiscal years 2022 and 2021 are as follows:
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Carbon Emissions20222021
Direct (Scope 1) GHG Emissions in Metric Tons CO2e
Gross GHG emissions30,400,71521,375,275
Net GHG emissions30,400,71521,370,485
Biogenic Emissions in Metric Tons CO2e
Biogenic (Outside of Scope) Emissions26,806Not calculated
Indirect Emissions in Metric Tons CO2e
Indirect (Scope 2) GHG emissions149,252160,794
Other indirect (Scope 3) GHG emissions (a)13,343,6765,561,745
Total Net GHG Emissions in Metric Tons CO2e (b)
43,893,64227,093,024
Carbon Emissions Intensity Rates (c)20222021
Emissions Intensity per Revenue ton-kilometer ("RTK")
Mainline RTKs (millions) (d)39,52625,212
Metric tons CO2e/1,000 mainline RTKs (e)
773854
Metric tons CO2e/1,000 mainline and regional RTKs (f)
1,0981,307
Emissions Intensity per ASM
ASMs (millions) (g)247,858178,684
Metric tons CO2e/1,000 mainline and regional ASMs (h)
176151
(a)2021 included Scope 3 categories 4, 7, 14 and 15 while 2022 included Scope 3 categories 3, 4, 7, 14 and 15.
(b)Excludes biogenic emissions in accordance with Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
(c)Intensity rates and operational figures are calculated based on third-party verified data for 2022 and 2021.
(d)The number of mainline revenue (passenger and cargo) tons transported multiplied by the number of miles flown on each segment.
(e)Scope 1+2 emissions/mainline RTKs; metric used for tracking progress against industry goal of 1.5%/year efficiency improvement.
(f)Scope 1+2+3 (categories 3 and 4) emissions/mainline+regional RTKs; metric used for tracking progress against the Company's 2035 carbon emissions intensity goal and 2050 carbon emission goal.
(g)The number of seats available for passengers multiplied by the number of scheduled miles those seats are flown.
(h)Scope 1+2+3 (categories 3, 4, 7 and 14) emissions/mainline+regional ASMs.
Additional information on United's commitment to environmental sustainability is available at united.com/sustainability. The information contained on or connected to the Company's website is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K and should not be considered part of this or any other report filed with the SEC.
Human Capital Management and Resources
Demographics: As of December 31, 2023, UAL, including its subsidiaries, had approximately 103,300 employees, of whom approximately 83% were represented by various U.S. labor organizations. See our section "The maintenance of our relationships with our labor unions" below for information on the represented employee groups.
As of December 31, 2023, of our U.S. employees, approximately 39% were female and approximately 50% self-identified as part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. Our workforce diversity metrics are reported regularly to the executive team and to the Board. The Board believes that its membership should continue to reflect a diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and gender identity and is committed to actively seeking women and minority candidates for the pool from which director candidates are chosen in support of the Board's commitment to diversity. The following table contains aggregate information regarding certain self-identified characteristics of our U.S. employees and directors:
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U.S. Employees and Directors (a)
Board of DirectorsCompany-wideFrontlineProfessional/ SupervisorySenior Professional/ LeadersSenior Leaders
Female36,089 31,320 3,278 1,400 91 
Male56,008 49,322 3,977 2,533 176 
Asian— 11,434 9,650 1,000 760 24 
American Indian/Alaska Native— 401 363 26 11 
Black/African American13,580 12,158 1,089 317 16 
Hispanic/Latino— 16,411 14,677 1,345 372 17 
Hawaiian/Pacific Island— 2,674 2,485 153 35 
Not disclosed— 1,388 1,227 104 54 
Two or more races— 1,764 1,561 145 53 
White11 44,445 38,521 3,393 2,331 200 
(a) Employee diversity representation data is for U.S. workforce only, excluding employees on leave and those directly employed by United subsidiaries, as of December 31, 2023. Diversity tracking is prohibited by law in some international locations. Numbers may not sum due to rounding.
People & Culture: We believe that our employees represent the brightest and highest-performing people in the aviation industry. Our continued ability to attract, hire, develop and retain skilled personnel with industry experience and knowledge at all levels of our organization is the foundation of our success, especially in light of our ambitious growth agenda under our United Next plan. Our human capital management strategy is designed to help us find the best talent who can drive our United Next objectives and provide the tools to prepare them for critical roles and leadership positions in the future. We are proud of our Company culture and plan to continue to execute our strategy through the following:
1.Our talent acquisition process and succession planning.
We developed talent acquisition tools and programs to help us continue to (i) attract the candidates who can deliver the highest levels of service to our customers; (ii) ensure recruiting, retention and leadership development goals are systematically executed throughout the Company; and (iii) broaden and strengthen our talent channels and pipelines so that we can cultivate the next generation of talent that will lead our company into the future. In 2023, the Company hired approximately 17,000 employees across the globe through the Company's external career site, professional association partnerships, employee referrals, universities and other external sources.
Our human resources programs are designed to facilitate internal talent mobility. We encourage employees to identify the paths that can build the skills, experience, knowledge and competencies needed for career advancement. In 2023, about 75% of our senior leader positions filled were internal placements and 513 frontline employees were promoted into management roles, the latter of which was consistent with last year and almost three times as many as in prior years.
In addition, as a global company that operates in hundreds of locations around the world with millions of customers, we believe that we have a unique responsibility to provide transformative opportunities to enter into high paying aviation fields that have been inaccessible to many of the people who live in the communities that we serve. We have been focused on effecting change in these communities that we believe can impact the entire aviation workforce landscape through our United Pathways programs (which include the Aviate, Calibrate and Innovate programs that make pilot, technician and digital technology careers more accessible by raising awareness, focusing on skills-first hiring and removing financial barriers).
We believe that our talent management process provides equal and consistent opportunities for employees. The Company's policies strictly prohibit any form of employment discrimination. To ensure accountability over time, we have committed to sharing our U.S. workforce demographic data by self-identified race, ethnicity and gender as well as our Consolidated EEO-1 Report (which includes only the Company's and United Ground Express, Inc.'s U.S. workforces) on an annual basis on our website. The information contained on or connected to the Company's website is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K and should not be considered part of this or any other report filed with the SEC.
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Succession planning provides us the opportunity to evaluate our key successors. Executives engage in succession planning by continuously evaluating, developing and mentoring our high potential talent and providing them with advancement opportunities to ensure they are prepared when executive and management positions become available. The Board also engages in annual succession planning and talent development discussions with our Chief Executive Officer, President and Executive Vice President of Human Resources, focusing on our ability to identify, attract, prepare and retain talented employees for future leadership positions.
2.The development of our Company culture that is centered on safety, supports our employees' well-being and promotes the importance of continuously listening and responding to colleague feedback.
As stated above, safety is first in everything we do and is our first Core4 service standard. We are focused on promoting our safety culture to help ensure that every employee across the Company holds each other to the highest safety standards and strives to protect themselves, their colleagues and our customers.
To support the well-being—including physical health, mental health and financial well-being—of our employees and their families, we provide comprehensive access to benefits designed to help employees thrive. One of the ways that we aim to support the wellness of our colleagues is by partnering with them to help ensure they feel they are part of a community. Our highly engaged and employee-led Business Resource Groups ("BRG") build cultural awareness and allyship for the various communities they represent – Black/African American, LGBTQ+, multicultural, multigenerational, people with disabilities, veterans, women and families (working parents and caregivers). Membership in our BRGs grew by approximately 11,000 memberships to approximately 38,000 in 2023. Each of our eight BRGs is sponsored by a member of our executive team.

As we strive to continue to be an employer of choice, we believe it is critical that our workforce is informed, engaged and can provide feedback. Our executive team provides several avenues of engagement to inform our employee needs globally. We routinely conduct employee engagement surveys of our global workforce, which provide feedback on employee satisfaction and cover a variety of topics such as company culture, safety and values, execution of our strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion and individual development, among others.
3.Robust professional and leadership development training programs for all career stages.
Our industry and team are experiencing transformation and we have responded by becoming a learning organization, helping to guide our employees in their journey to reach their full potential. We invest heavily in our training programs, which we believe will better position us to meet our current and future business needs while also driving employee retention. We offer a broad range of leadership and professional training programs for career growth and advancement, which begins with an introduction to our culture when our employees start and progresses through new people leadership trainings as well as high potential development programs at the manager, senior manager, director and managing director levels. We provide all management-level employees with the opportunity to develop their skills through our Leadership, Airport Operations and Digital Training Institutes. With respect to our technical positions, we have developed state-of-the art technical training programs that include immersive training, virtual reality, simulations, on the job training and assessments of proficiency to ensure we operate at the highest level of aviation safety and customer service.
4.The ability for our employees to qualify for retirement, health and wellness benefits as well as, of course, travel privileges.
While our rewards package for most of our employees is defined by collective bargaining agreements, it includes competitive base pay, travel privileges and other comprehensive benefits, including health, wellness and retirement programs for all our employees, including part-time employees. We review both industry and local market data at least annually to identify trends and market gaps in order to maintain the competitiveness of our compensation and employee benefit programs. With respect to executives, a substantial proportion of their total rewards package is variable, at-risk pay that is based on Company performance and delivered in the form of equity, supporting alignment over the long term between our executives and our shareholders. We align our executives' long-term equity compensation with our shareholders' interests by linking realizable pay with stock performance. In addition, the Company has performance-based compensation programs for other management employee leaders, including managers, supervisors and team leads.
5.The maintenance of our relationships with our labor unions.
We bargain in good faith with the unions that represent our employees and frequently engage with union leaders. Collective bargaining agreements between the Company and its represented employee groups are negotiated under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"). Such agreements typically do not contain an expiration date and instead specify an
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amendable date, upon which the agreement is considered "open for amendment." The following table reflects the Company's represented employee groups, the number of employees per represented group, union representation for each employee group, and the amendable date for each employee group's collective bargaining agreement as of December 31, 2023:
Employee
Group
Number of EmployeesUnionAgreement Open for Amendment
United Airlines, Inc.:
Flight Attendants 25,803Association of Flight AttendantsAugust 2021
Fleet Service15,624International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (the "IAM")May 2025
Pilots15,445Air Line Pilots Association ("ALPA")October 2027
Passenger Service11,674IAMMay 2025
Technicians9,752International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the "IBT")December 2024
Storekeepers1,216IAMMay 2025
Dispatchers 500Professional Airline Flight Control AssociationDecember 2024
Fleet Tech Instructors167IAMMay 2025
Technical Operations Maintenance Planners123IBTMay 2028
Technical Operations Maintenance Controllers84IBTNovember 2026
Load Planners77IAMMay 2025 (a)
Maintenance Instructors54IAMMay 2025
Security Officers40IAMMay 2025 (a)
United Ground Express, Inc.:
Passenger Service 5,163IAMMarch 2025
(a)Reflecting contract ratification in February 2024.
In January 2023, United and the IBT ratified an extension to its labor contract. The agreement becomes amendable in December 2024. On February 28, 2024, United and the IBT reached a tentative agreement for an extension to their labor contract. The agreement, if ratified, becomes amendable in December 2028. The tentative agreement provides competitive pay increases and improved several work rules. In May 2023, United and the IAM ratified five agreements. The ratified agreements are effective through 2025. On February 23, 2024, United and the IAM ratified agreements covering the security guards in California and central load planners. The ratified agreements are effective through 2025. In September 2023, the Company's pilots represented by ALPA ratified an agreement with United. The agreement includes numerous work rule changes and pay rate increases during the four-year term.
Board Oversight: Our Board, assisted by several of its committees, plays a key role in the strategic oversight of management regarding the development, implementation and effectiveness of the Company's policies and strategies relating to human capital management. The Board's Executive Committee oversees and reviews significant human capital strategies, including culture, talent management and diversity, equity and inclusion ("DEI") matters, and the Board's Public Responsibility Committee reviews and monitors the development and implementation of the Company's DEI and strategic goals and objectives. Many of our Board members have experience overseeing workforce issues as CEOs and presidents of other companies or organizations. The Compensation Committee also engages an independent compensation and benefits consulting firm to help evaluate our executive compensation and benefit programs and to provide benchmarking against a group of peer companies, including peers within the airline industry.
Additional Information: See our report at crreport.united.com, for additional information on our human capital management programs, initiatives and measures. We are committed to transparency and accountability as we work to better reflect the diversity of the communities we serve in all areas of our business and have committed to sharing our U.S. workforce demographic data by self-identified race, ethnicity and gender on an annual basis on our website. The information contained on
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or connected to the Company's website is not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K and should not be considered part of this or any other report filed with the SEC.
Industry Regulation
Airlines are subject to extensive domestic and international regulatory oversight. The following discussion summarizes the principal elements of the regulatory framework applicable to our business. Regulatory requirements, including but not limited to those discussed below, affect our operations and increase our operating costs, and future regulatory developments may continue to do the same. In addition, should any of our governmental authorizations or certificates be modified, suspended or revoked, our business and competitive position could be materially adversely affected. See Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors—"The airline industry is subject to extensive government regulation, which imposes significant costs and may adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition" for additional information on the material effects of compliance with government regulations.
Domestic Regulation. All carriers engaged in air transportation in the United States are subject to regulation by the DOT. Absent an exemption, no air carrier may provide air transportation of passengers or property without first being issued a DOT certificate of public convenience and necessity. The DOT also grants international route authority, approves international codeshare arrangements and regulates methods of competition. The DOT regulates consumer protection and maintains jurisdiction over advertising, denied boarding compensation, tarmac delays, baggage liability and other areas and may add additional expensive regulatory burdens in the future. The DOT has launched investigations or claimed rulemaking authority to regulate commercial agreements among carriers or between carriers and third parties in a wide variety of contexts.
Airlines are also regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (the "FAA"), an agency within the DOT, primarily in the areas of flight safety, air carrier operations and aircraft maintenance and airworthiness. The FAA issues air carrier operating certificates and aircraft airworthiness certificates, prescribes maintenance procedures, oversees airport operations and regulates pilot and other employee training. From time to time, the FAA issues directives that require air carriers to inspect, modify or ground aircraft and other equipment, potentially causing the Company to incur substantial, unplanned expenses. The airline industry is also subject to numerous other federal laws and regulations. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") has jurisdiction over virtually every aspect of civil aviation security. The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") has jurisdiction over certain airline competition matters. The U.S. Postal Service has authority over certain aspects of the transportation of mail by airlines. Labor relations in the airline industry are generally governed by the RLA, a federal statute. The Company is also subject to investigation inquiries by the DOT, FAA, DOJ, DHS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"), the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA"), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), OSHA and other U.S. and international regulatory bodies.
Airport Access. Access to landing and take-off rights, or "slots," at several major U.S. airports served by the Company are subject to government regulation. Federally-mandated domestic slot restrictions that limit operations and regulate capacity currently apply at three airports: Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., and John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in the New York City metropolitan region. Additional restrictions on takeoff and landing slots at these and other airports may be implemented in the future and could affect the Company's rights of ownership and transfer as well as its operations.
Legislation. The airline industry is subject to legislative actions (or inactions) that may have an impact on operations and costs. In 2018, the U.S. Congress approved a five-year reauthorization for the FAA, expiring September 30, 2023. Congress subsequently extended the FAA's authorization through March 8, 2024. Discussions in connection with the reauthorization could include a wide range of tax and policy issues. Potential policy changes for consideration could include airline customer service requirements, aviation safety, investments in FAA staffing and resources, advancements in improving ATC technology, labor requirements and managing new entrants in the National Air Space. These issues could impact the Company and larger airline industry. Congressional action on reauthorization is expected to occur after the March 2024 expiration date, and in that case, Congress will likely pass an extension of current law to prevent any lapse in taxing authority.
International Regulation. International air transportation is subject to extensive government regulation. In connection with the Company's international services, the Company is regulated by both the U.S. government and the governments of the foreign countries or regions the Company serves. In addition, the availability of international routes to U.S. carriers is regulated by aviation agreements between the U.S. and foreign governments and in some cases, fares and schedules require the approval of the DOT and/or the relevant foreign governments.
Legislation. Foreign countries are increasingly enacting passenger protection laws, rules and regulations that meet or exceed U.S. requirements. In cases where this activity exceeds U.S. requirements, additional burden and liability may be placed on the Company. Certain countries have regulations requiring passenger compensation from the Company and/or enforcement penalties in addition to changes in operating procedures due to overbooked, canceled or delayed flights.
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Airport Access. Historically, access to foreign routes has been tightly controlled through bilateral agreements between the U.S. and each foreign jurisdiction involved. These agreements regulate the routes served, the number of carriers allowed to serve each route and the frequency of carriers' flights. Since the early 1990s, the U.S. has pursued a policy of "Open Skies" (meaning all U.S. and foreign carriers have access to the destination) under which the U.S. government has negotiated a number of bilateral agreements allowing unrestricted access between U.S. and foreign points. Currently, there are more than 100 Open Skies agreements in effect. However, even with Open Skies, many of the airports that the Company serves in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America maintain slot controls. A large number of these slot controls exist due to congestion, environmental and noise protection and reduced capacity due to runway and ATC construction work, among other reasons.
The Company's ability to serve some foreign routes and expand into certain others is limited by the absence of aviation agreements between the U.S. government and the relevant foreign governments. Shifts in U.S. or foreign government aviation policies may lead to the alteration or termination of air service agreements. Depending on the nature of any such change, the value of the Company's international route authorities and slot rights may be materially enhanced or diminished. Similarly, foreign governments control their airspace and can restrict our ability to overfly their territory, which may enhance or diminish the value of the Company's existing international route authorizations and slot rights.
Epidemics or pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may cause governments to restrict entry of passengers and/or to impose health management rules which can include vaccinations, boosters, testing, quarantine upon arrival, health declarations and temperature screens, among others. Such requirements may result in reduced demand for travel in certain circumstances and may cause the Company to suspend certain international services. Although certain governments may grant waivers for limited periods that allow the Company to maintain existing slot rights and route authorizations while not operating at a particular foreign point, waivers are not guaranteed.
Environmental Regulation. The airline industry is subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and international environmental regulations, including those regulating emissions to air, water discharges, safe drinking water and the use and management of hazardous substances and wastes. The Company endeavors to comply with all applicable environmental regulations.
Climate Change and Sustainability. As outlined above, the Company's commitment to becoming a more environmentally sustainable company extends beyond seeking to comply with regulatory requirements. At the same time, efforts to reduce carbon emissions through environmental sustainability legislation and regulation, or non-binding standards or accords, is an increased focus of global, national and regional regulators. The International Civil Aviation Organization's ("ICAO") Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation ("CORSIA"), adopted in October 2016, is intended to be a single global market-based measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth for international aviation, by requiring airlines to purchase eligible carbon offsets, or, lower their carbon offsetting obligations through the use of eligible sustainable fuels. In October 2022, the ICAO Assembly passed a resolution establishing the baseline for the subsequent phases of CORSIA at 85% of 2019 emissions. This decision is expected to substantially increase United's anticipated CORSIA compliance costs for the first phase, 2024-2026, as compared to the prior 2019-only baseline. The exact mechanism by which CORSIA will be implemented domestically is currently unknown as the federal government has not enacted legislation or regulations to implement the first phase of CORSIA. Additionally, the market for CORSIA-eligible offsets is severely constrained, as the ICAO Council has so far approved only two registries as eligible to supply CORSIA-eligible emissions units for the 2024-2026 compliance period.
Other jurisdictions are proposing or enacting regulations to limit GHG emissions from aviation. A policy to regulate GHG emissions from aviation known as the European Union ("EU") Emission Trading System ("ETS") was adopted in 2009, but applicability to flights arriving at or departing from airports outside the EU has been postponed several times, most recently until 2027. The extension of the EU ETS to extra-EU flights could still occur in future years, depending on the EU government's assessment of the effectiveness of CORSIA. In addition to the EU ETS, other countries are considering climate proposals that would impact aviation. For example, in 2023 the Dutch government announced plans to introduce a CO2 emissions ceiling for international aviation, whereby each airport would be restricted to a CO2 budget for consecutive three-year periods. The exact scope of the regulation is unknown, but if adopted in 2024, it could apply as early as 2025. Domestically, in December 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") adopted its own aircraft and aircraft engine GHG emissions standards, which are aligned with the 2017 ICAO airplane CO2 emission standards. In June 2022, the same standards were proposed by the FAA, the agency responsible for enforcing the standard at the time of aircraft certification, and the regulations were finalized in February 2024.
The Company believes that policies that incentivize the production of SAF, such as the passage of tax credit incentives for the production of SAF in the IRA, or economy-wide carbon prices or taxes, will enable the Company to decarbonize its operations more cost efficiently than a patchwork of regulatory requirements on aviation, particularly those that require airlines to reduce flights or impose the cost of transitioning to low-carbon alternatives disproportionately on airlines. The Company lauded the
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U.S. government's passage of the IRA and will continue to work with policymakers to adopt policies that incentivize the production of SAF to allow the industry to transition to a lower carbon future, including policies that will allow ethanol-based SAF to qualify for IRA tax credits. In addition, while the Company continues to plan on meeting its mid-term and long-term climate goals without relying on voluntary carbon offsets, the Company may be subject to future regulatory requirements that require the purchase of non-voluntary carbon offsets, which may expose the Company to additional costs associated with the procurement of offsets or limited supply in the carbon offsets market. The Company believes that policies that incentivize in-sector emissions reductions, rather than carbon offset purchases, will better support the industry's transition to a lower carbon future.
A number of climate-related regulations have recently been finalized that will require the Company to develop compliance programs and strategies. Recently, the EU finalized its ReFuelEU regulation which requires fuel producers in EU states to supply a minimum percentage of SAF in aviation fuel provided to aircraft operators at covered EU airports beginning January 1, 2025. ReFuelEU requires airlines flying out of covered EU airports to comply with refueling obligations beginning January 1, 2025. Under ReFuelEU, United will be subject to the refueling obligation for flights from covered EU airports and will be required to submit verified reports to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency on its purchases of SAF and its actual aviation fuel uplift at the covered airports. Similar SAF blending mandates have also been introduced in France, Norway, India and Japan. Separately, a number of countries and other jurisdictions, including California, have finalized or proposed low carbon fuel standards that would impose compliance obligations on jet fuel and effectively create a cap-and-trade system for low carbon fuels. The implementation of low carbon fuel standards that include obligations for jet fuel are expected to increase United's operating costs.
Other regulations are emerging globally that would require companies such as United to increasingly measure, disclose, and mitigate environmental sustainability risks both within their operations and their supply chains, such as the EU's Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
Other Regulations. Our operations are subject to a variety of other environmental laws and regulations both in the United States and internationally. These include noise-related restrictions on aircraft types and operating times and state and local air quality initiatives which have resulted in, or could in the future result in, curtailments in services, increased operating costs, limits on expansion, or further emission reduction requirements. Certain airports and/or governments, both domestically and internationally, either have established or are seeking to establish environmental fees and other requirements applicable to carbon emissions, local air quality pollutants and/or noise, sustainable aviation fuel blending mandates and the use of products and material such as single-use plastics. The implementation of these requirements is expected to result in increased operational costs to develop compliance programs and strategies.
Governmental authorities in the U.S. and abroad have passed legislation restricting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ("PFAS") which have been used in manufacturing, industrial, and consumer applications, including those related to aviation. State governments and local municipalities have adopted legislation prohibiting the use of Class B fire-fighting foam agents that contain intentionally added PFAS. As a result, the Company continues to incur costs to convert existing fixed foam fire suppression systems to accommodate PFAS-free firefighting foam agents. In addition, the EPA has developed the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which includes regulatory actions across a wide spectrum of its statutory authorities, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. In August 2022, EPA proposed to designate two PFAS substances, perfluorooctanoic acid ("PFOA") and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid ("PFOS") as hazardous substances under CERCLA. The proposed rule, expected to be finalized in March 2024, would authorize the EPA to order cleanup actions and hold responsible parties liable under CERCLA's joint and several liability scheme. The rule, if finalized, would also require the Company to immediately report releases that meet or exceed the reportable quantity of PFOA or PFOS to the EPA and any other applicable state and local agencies. The Company expects these broad regulatory policies will increase the risk of incurring remediation costs and/or liabilities at current and former locations at which the Company currently or historically used fire-fighting foam agents containing PFOA, PFOS or other PFAS substances. To mitigate these risks, the Company is working to remove PFAS-containing fire-fighting foam from its hangars and other assets through a phased retrofit/replacement strategy and is committed to transitioning to PFAS-free materials for fire suppression. Finally, environmental cleanup laws and lease obligations could require the Company to undertake (or subject the Company to liability for costs associated with) investigation and remediation actions at certain owned or leased locations or third-party disposal locations. Because PFOA, PFOS and other PFAS substances are expected to be regulated under CERCLA and have been regulated under other environmental cleanup laws, the Company may become subject to potential liability for its historic usage of PFAS-containing materials. Until the applicability of new regulations to our specific operations is better defined and/or until pending regulations are finalized, future costs to comply with such regulations will remain uncertain but are likely to increase our operating costs over time.
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While the Company is required to comply with numerous applicable environmental regulations, the Company believes that these regulations and programs, including the first phase of CORSIA, EPA regulations regarding PFAS and GHG emissions, and other existing environmental regulations, are not reasonably likely to have a material effect on the Company's results or competitive position. However, the precise nature of future requirements and their applicability to the Company are difficult to predict, and the financial impact to the Company and the aviation industry could be significant.
Information about Our Executive Officers
Below is a list of the Company's executive officers as of the date hereof, including their name, office(s) held and age.
NamePositionAge
Torbjorn (Toby) J. EnqvistExecutive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer52
Kate GeboExecutive Vice President Human Resources and Labor Relations55
Brett J. HartPresident54
Linda P. JojoExecutive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer58
J. Scott KirbyChief Executive Officer56
Michael LeskinenExecutive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer44
Andrew NocellaExecutive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer54
Set forth below is a description of the background of each of the Company's executive officers. Executive officers are elected by UAL's Board for an initial term that continues until the first Board meeting following the next Annual Meeting of Shareholders and thereafter, are elected for a one-year term or until their successors have been chosen, or until their earlier death, resignation or removal. Executive officers serve at the discretion of the Board. Unless otherwise stated, employment is by UAL and United. There are no family relationships between any executive officer or director of UAL.
Torbjorn (Toby) J. Enqvist. Mr. Enqvist has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of UAL and United since July 2022. From June 2021 to July 2022, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of UAL and United. From August 2018 to May 2021, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of UAL and United. From December 2017 to August 2018, he served as Senior Vice President of Network Operations and Customer Solutions of UAL and United. From July 2017 to December 2017, he served as Senior Vice President of Customer Solutions and Recovery of UAL and United. From December 2015 to June 2017, he served as Vice President Hubs Domestic & International Line Stations. From January 2014 to November 2015, he served as Vice President Project Quality. From November 2011 to December 2013, he served as Vice President Newark Hub. From January 2010 to October 2011, he served as Vice President Security & Environment Affairs. Mr. Enqvist joined Continental Airlines, Inc. ("Continental") in 1996.
Kate Gebo. Ms. Gebo has served as Executive Vice President Human Resources and Labor Relations of UAL and United since December 2017. From November 2016 to November 2017, Ms. Gebo served as Senior Vice President, Global Customer Service Delivery and Chief Customer Officer of United. From October 2015 to November 2016, Ms. Gebo served as Vice President of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer of United. From November 2009 to October 2015, Ms. Gebo served as Vice President of Corporate Real Estate of United.
Brett J. Hart. Mr. Hart has served as President of UAL and United since May 2020. From March 2019 to May 2020, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of UAL and United. From May 2017 to March 2019, he served as Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel of UAL and United. From February 2012 to May 2017, he served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of UAL and United. Mr. Hart served as acting Chief Executive Officer and principal executive officer of the Company, on an interim basis, from October 2015 to March 2016. From December 2010 to February 2012, he served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of UAL, United and Continental. From June 2009 to December 2010, Mr. Hart served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Sara Lee Corporation, a consumer food and beverage company. From March 2005 to May 2009, Mr. Hart served as Deputy General Counsel and Chief Global Compliance Officer of Sara Lee Corporation.
Linda P. Jojo. Ms. Jojo has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of UAL and United since July 2022. From June 2017 to July 2022, she served as Executive Vice President Technology and Chief Digital Officer of UAL and United. From November 2014 to June 2017, she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of UAL and United. From July 2011 to October 2014, she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Rogers Communications, Inc., a Canadian communications and media company. From October 2008 to June 2011, she served as Chief Information Officer of Energy Future Holdings, a Dallas-based privately held energy company and electrical utility provider.
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J. Scott Kirby. Mr. Kirby has served as Chief Executive Officer of UAL and United since May 2020. Mr. Kirby served as President of UAL and United from August 2016 to May 2020. Prior to joining the Company, from December 2013 to August 2016, Mr. Kirby served as President of American Airlines Group and American Airlines, Inc. Mr. Kirby also previously served as President of US Airways from October 2006 to December 2013. Mr. Kirby held significant other leadership roles at US Airways and at America West prior to the 2005 merger of those carriers, including Executive Vice President—Sales and Marketing (2001 to 2006); Senior Vice President, e-business (2000 to 2001); Vice President, Revenue Management (1998 to 2000); Vice President, Planning (1997 to 1998); and Senior Director, Scheduling and Planning (1995 to 1998). Prior to joining America West, Mr. Kirby worked for American Airlines Decision Technologies and at the Pentagon.
Michael Leskinen. Mr. Leskinen has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of UAL and United since September 2023. Mr. Leskinen served as Vice President of Corporate Development and Investor Relations of United from April 2019 to September 2023. In 2021, he added the title of President of UAV, an industry-first corporate venture capital fund that identifies and invests in opportunities to decarbonize air travel and enhance the customer travel experience. From January 2018 to April 2019, Mr. Leskinen served as Managing Director of Investor Relations of UAL and United. Prior to joining United, Mr. Leskinen was an executive director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management from 2013 to 2017, where he led the firm's investment efforts in aerospace, defense, and airlines. From 2009 to 2013, he worked at Oppenheimer Funds focused on the aerospace sector.
Andrew Nocella. Mr. Nocella has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of UAL and United since September 2017. From February 2017 to September 2017, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of UAL and United. Prior to joining the Company, from August 2016 to February 2017, Mr. Nocella served as Senior Vice President, Alliances and Sales of American Airlines, Inc. From December 2013 to August 2016, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of American Airlines, Inc. From August 2007 to December 2013, he served as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Planning of US Airways.
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ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS.
Any of the risks and uncertainties described below could significantly and negatively affect our business operations, financial condition, operating results (including components of our financial results), cash flows, prospects, reputation or credit ratings, which could cause the trading price of our common stock to decline significantly. Additional risks and uncertainties that are not presently known to us, or risks that we currently consider immaterial, could also impair our business operations, financial condition, operating results, cash flows, prospects, reputation or credit ratings.
Strategic and Business Development Risks
We may not be successful in executing elements of our strategic operating plan, which may have a material adverse impact on our business, financial results and market capitalization.
United Next, the Company's strategic operating plan, includes firm orders of over 700 narrow and widebody aircraft, retrofitting plans and plans to increase mainline daily departures and available seats across the Company's North American network. In developing our United Next plan, we made certain assumptions including, but not limited to, customer demand (in light of changing economic conditions), fuel costs, delivery of aircraft, aircraft certification approval timelines, labor market constraints and related costs, supply chain constraints, inflationary pressures, voluntary or mandatory groundings of aircraft, our regional network, competition, market consolidation and other macroeconomic and geopolitical factors. We also subsequently adjusted certain of our assumptions as a result of the increase in costs due to infrastructure improvements, new labor contracts and aircraft maintenance that were needed to support our United Next plan as well as the expected delay in 737 MAX 10 aircraft deliveries. Actual conditions may be different from our assumptions at any time and could cause the Company to further adjust its strategic operating plan. In addition, we cannot provide any assurance that we will be able to successfully execute our strategic plan, that the growth that we anticipate will occur through execution of our strategic plan will not exacerbate any other risk described in this Form 10-K (especially relating to fuel costs, the impact of economic pressures or geopolitical events, our supply chain or our ability to attract, train and retain talent), that our strategic plan will not result in additional unanticipated costs, that our suppliers will timely provide adequate products or support for our products (including but not limited to certification and delivery of aircraft) or that our strategic plan will result in improvements in future financial performance. If we do not successfully execute our United Next or other strategic plans, or if actual results vary significantly from our expectations, our business, operating results, financial condition and market capitalization could be materially and adversely impacted. The failure to successfully structure our business to meet market conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
Changes in the Company's network strategy over time or other factors outside of the Company's control may make aircraft on order less economic for the Company, result in costs related to modification or termination of aircraft orders or cause the Company to enter into orders for new aircraft on less favorable terms, and any inability to accept or integrate new aircraft into the Company's fleet as planned could increase costs or affect the Company's flight schedules.
The Company's orders for new aircraft are typically made years in advance of actual delivery of such aircraft and the financial commitment required for purchases of new aircraft is substantial. As a result of our network strategy changing or our demand expectations not being realized, our preference for the aircraft that we previously ordered may decrease; however, the Company may be responsible for material liabilities to its counterparties if it were to attempt to modify or terminate any of its existing aircraft order commitments and our financial condition could be adversely impacted. These risks are heightened as a result of the Company's sizeable United Next aircraft orders. Additionally, the Company may have a need for additional aircraft that are not available under its existing orders and may seek to acquire aircraft from other sources, such as through lease arrangements, which may result in higher costs or less favorable terms, or through the purchase or lease of used aircraft. The Company may not be able to acquire such aircraft when needed on favorable terms or at all.
Furthermore, if, for any reason, the Company is unable or does not want to accept deliveries of new aircraft or integrate such new aircraft into its fleet as planned, the Company may face higher financing and operating costs than planned or litigation risks and may be required to seek extensions of the terms for certain leased aircraft or otherwise delay the exit of other aircraft from its fleet. Unanticipated extensions or delays may require the Company to operate existing aircraft beyond the point at which it is economically optimal to retire them, resulting in increased maintenance costs, or reductions to the Company's schedule, thereby reducing revenues.
The imposition of new tariffs, or any increase in existing tariffs, on the importation of commercial aircraft that the Company orders may also result in higher costs.
Failure to effectively manage acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures and other portfolio actions could adversely impact our operating results. In addition, any businesses or assets that we acquire in the future increase our exposure to unknown liabilities or other issues and also may underperform as compared to expectations.
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An important part of the Company's strategy to expand its global network and operate an environmentally sustainable and responsible airline has included making significant investments, both domestically and in other parts of the world, including in other airlines and other aviation industry participants, producers of SAF and manufacturers of electric and other new generation aircraft. For instance, the Company plans to continue to make additional investments through its corporate venture capital arm, UAV and as a limited partner of the Fund. However, since there are a limited number of potential arrangements, and other airlines and industry participants seek to enter into similar relationships, this may make it difficult for the Company to complete strategic investments on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
These investments are inherently risky and may not be successful. Future revenues, profits and cash flows of these and future investments and repayment of invested or loaned funds may not materialize due to safety concerns, regulatory issues, supply chain constraints or other factors beyond our control. Where we acquire debt or equity securities as all or part of the consideration for business development activities, such as in connection with a joint venture, the value of those securities will fluctuate and may depreciate in value. We may not control the companies in which we make investments and, as a result, we will have limited ability to determine their management, operational decisions, internal controls and compliance and other policies, which can result in additional financial and reputational risks. Further, acquisitions and investments create exposure to assumed litigation and unknown liabilities, as well as undetected internal control, regulatory compliance or other issues, or additional costs not anticipated at the time the transaction was completed, and our due diligence efforts may not identify such liabilities or issues, or they may not be disclosed to us.
From time to time, we also divest assets. We may not be successful in separating any such assets, and losses on the divestiture of, or lost operating income from, such assets may adversely affect our earnings. Any divestitures also may result in continued financial exposure to the divested businesses following the transaction, such as through guarantees or other financial arrangements or potential litigation.
In addition, we have incurred, and may again in the future incur, asset impairment charges related to acquisitions, divestitures, investments or joint ventures that have the effect of reducing our earnings. Moreover, new or revised accounting standards, rules and interpretations could result in changes to the recognition of income and expense that may materially and adversely affect our financial results.
If the execution or implementation of acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures and other portfolio actions is not successful, it could adversely impact our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. In addition, due to the Company's substantial amount of debt, there are certain limitations on the Company's business development capacity. Further, pursuing these opportunities may require us to obtain additional equity or debt financing and could result in increased leverage and/or a downgrade of our credit ratings.
Business, Operational and Industry Risks
The Company could experience adverse publicity, harm to its brand, reduced travel demand, potential tort liability and operational restrictions as a result of an accident, catastrophe or incident involving its aircraft or its operations or the aircraft or operations of another airline, which may result in a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results or financial condition.
An accident, catastrophe or incident involving an aircraft that the Company operates, or an aircraft or aircraft type that is operated by another airline, or an incident involving the Company's operations, or the operations of another airline, could have a material adverse effect on the Company if such accident, catastrophe or incident created a public perception that the Company's operations, or the operations of its codeshare partners or regional carriers, are not safe or reliable, or are less safe or reliable than other airlines. Further, any such accident, catastrophe or incident involving the Company, its regional carriers or its codeshare partners could expose the Company to significant liability. Although the Company currently maintains liability insurance in amounts and of the type the Company believes to be consistent with industry practice to cover damages arising from any such accident, catastrophe or incident, and the Company's codeshare partners and regional carriers carry similar insurance and generally indemnify the Company for their operations, if the Company's liability exceeds the applicable policy limits or the ability of another carrier to indemnify it, the Company could incur substantial losses from an accident, catastrophe or incident, which may result in a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results or financial condition. In addition, any such accident, catastrophe or incident involving the Company, its regional carriers or its codeshare partners could result in operational restrictions on the Company, including voluntary or mandatory groundings of aircraft. Voluntary or involuntary groundings have also impacted, and could in the future impact, the Company's financial results and operations in numerous ways, including reduced revenue, redistributions of other aircraft and deferrals of capital expenditure and other spending. For example, in January 2024, the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive suspending service of all Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft operated by U.S. airlines, resulting in the grounding of all 79 of the Company's Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, which has negatively impacted the Company's financial performance in the first quarter of 2024. Previously, in
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February 2021, the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive regarding certain Boeing 777 Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft, which required the Company to keep more than 50 aircraft out of service until required repairs were made to improve the safety of the engines. A prolonged period of time operating a reduced fleet in these circumstances could result in a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results or financial condition.
The global airline industry is highly competitive and susceptible to price discounting and changes in capacity, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
The airline industry is highly competitive, marked by significant competition with respect to routes, fares, schedules (both timing and frequency), services, products, customer service and frequent flyer programs. Consolidation in the airline industry, the rise of well-funded government sponsored international carriers, changes in international alliances, swaps of landing and slots and the creation of immunized JBAs have altered and are expected to continue to alter the competitive landscape in the industry, resulting in the formation of airlines and alliances with increased financial resources, more extensive global networks and services and competitive cost structures. Open Skies agreements, including the longstanding agreements between the United States and each of the EU, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Colombia and Panama, as well as the more recent agreements between the United States and each of Mexico, Brazil and the UK, may also give rise to better integration opportunities among international carriers. Movement of airlines between current global airline alliances could reduce joint network coverage for members of such alliances while also creating opportunities for JBAs and bilateral alliances that did not exist before such realignment. Further airline and airline alliance consolidations or reorganizations could occur in the future, and other airlines participating in such activities may significantly improve their cost structures or revenue generation capabilities, thereby potentially making them stronger competitors of the Company and impairing the Company's ability to realize expected benefits from its own strategic relationships.
Airlines also compete by increasing or decreasing their capacity, including route systems and the number of destinations served. Several of the Company's domestic and international competitors have increased their international capacity by including service to some destinations that the Company currently serves, causing overlap in destinations served and, therefore, increasing competition for those destinations. This increased competition in both domestic and international markets may have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company's U.S. operations are subject to competition from traditional network carriers, national point-to-point carriers and discount carriers, including low-cost carriers and ultra-low-cost carriers that may have lower costs and provide service at lower fares to destinations also served by the Company. The significant presence of low-cost carriers and ultra-low-cost carriers, which engage in substantial price discounting, may diminish our ability to achieve sustained profitability on domestic and international routes and has also caused us to reduce fares for certain routes, resulting in lower yields on many domestic markets. Our ability to compete in the domestic market effectively depends, in part, on our ability to maintain a competitive cost structure. If we cannot maintain our costs at a competitive level, then our business, operating results and financial condition could continue to be materially and adversely affected. In addition, our competitors have established new routes and destinations, including some at our hub airports, which may compete with our existing routes and destinations and expansion plans.
Our international operations are subject to competition from both foreign and domestic carriers. For instance, competition is significant from government-subsidized competitors from certain Middle East countries. These carriers have large numbers of international widebody aircraft on order and are increasing service to the U.S. from their hubs in the Middle East. The government support provided to these carriers has allowed them to grow quickly, reinvest in their product, invest in other airlines and expand their global presence. We also face competition from foreign carriers operating under "fifth freedom" rights permitted under international treaties that allow certain carriers to provide service to and from stopover points between their home countries and ultimate destinations, including points in the United States, in competition with service provided by us.
Through alliance and other marketing and codesharing agreements with foreign carriers, U.S. carriers have increased their ability to sell international transportation, such as services to and beyond traditional global gateway cities. Similarly, foreign carriers have obtained increased access to interior U.S. passenger traffic beyond traditional U.S. gateway cities through these relationships. In addition, several JBAs among U.S. and foreign carriers have received grants of antitrust immunity allowing the participating carriers to coordinate schedules, pricing, sales and inventory. If we are not able to continue participating in these types of alliance and other marketing and codesharing agreements in the future, our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
Our MileagePlus frequent flyer program benefits from the attractiveness and competitiveness of United Airlines as a material purchaser of award miles and the majority recipient for mileage redemption. If we are not able to maintain a competitive and attractive airline business, our ability to acquire, engage and retain customers in the loyalty program may be adversely affected, which could adversely affect the loyalty program's and our operating results and financial condition.
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Further, our MileagePlus frequent flyer program also faces significant and increasing direct competition from the frequent flyer programs offered by other airlines, as well as from similar loyalty programs offered by banks and other financial services companies. Competition among loyalty programs is intense regarding customer acquisition incentives, the value and utility of program currency, rewards range and value, fees, required usage, and other terms and conditions of these programs. If we are not able to maintain a competitive frequent flyer program, our ability to attract and retain customers to MileagePlus and United alike may be adversely affected, which could adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
Substantially all of the Company's aircraft, engines and certain parts are sourced from a limited number of suppliers; therefore, the Company would be materially and adversely affected if it were unable to obtain timely deliveries, additional equipment or support from any of these suppliers.
The Company currently sources substantially all of its aircraft and many related aircraft parts from The Boeing Company ("Boeing") or Airbus S.A.S. ("Airbus"). In addition, our aircraft suppliers are dependent on other suppliers for certain other aircraft parts. Therefore, if the Company is unable to acquire additional aircraft at acceptable prices from Boeing or Airbus, or if Boeing or Airbus fails to make timely deliveries of aircraft (whether as a result of increased FAA oversight of the production process, any failure or delay in obtaining regulatory approval or certification for new model aircraft, such as the 737 MAX 10 aircraft, which has not received a type certificate from the FAA, manufacturing delays or otherwise) or to provide adequate support for its products, including with respect to the aircraft subject to firm orders under our United Next plan, the Company's operations could be materially and adversely affected. For example, due to the delay of the certification of the 737 MAX 10 aircraft and continued supply chain issues, the Company currently expects a reduction in deliveries from Boeing during the next couple of years, which has caused the Company to rework its fleet plan and may impact our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
The Company is also dependent on a limited number of suppliers for engines and certain other aircraft parts and could, therefore, also be materially and adversely affected in the event of the unavailability or increased cost of these engines and other aircraft parts.
Many of our suppliers are experiencing inflationary pressures, as well as disruptions due to the lingering impacts of global supply chain and labor market constraints and related costs. If one or more of our suppliers, our contractors or their subcontractors continue to experience financial difficulties, delivery delays or other performance problems, they may be unable to meet their commitments to us and our financial position, results of operations and cash flows may continue to be adversely impacted.
Disruptions to our regional network and United Express flights provided by third-party regional carriers could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
While the Company has contractual relationships that are material to its business with various regional carriers to provide regional aircraft service branded as United Express that include contractually agreed performance metrics, each regional carrier is a separately certificated commercial air carrier, and the Company does not control the operations of these carriers. A number of factors may impact the Company's regional network, including weather-related effects, seasonality, equipment or software failures and cybersecurity attacks and any significant declines in demand for air travel services.
In addition, the decrease in qualified pilots driven primarily by changes to federal regulations has adversely impacted and could continue to adversely impact the Company's regional flying. For example, the FAA's expansion of minimum pilot qualification standards, including a requirement that a pilot have at least 1,500 total flight hours, as well as the FAA's revised pilot flight and duty time requirements under Part 117 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, have contributed to a smaller supply of pilots available to regional carriers. The decrease in qualified pilots resulting from the regulations as well as other factors, including a decreased student pilot population and a shrinking U.S. military from which to hire qualified pilots, has led to increased competition from large, mainline carriers attempting to meet their hiring needs and has adversely impacted our regional carriers. United Express regional carriers have been unable to hire adequate numbers of pilots to meet their needs, resulting in a reduction in the number of flights offered, disruptions in scheduled flights, increased costs of operations, financial difficulties and other adverse effects and these circumstances may become more severe in the future and could cause a material adverse effect on our business. In response, the Company has been and may in the future be required to provide additional financial compensation and other support to its regional carriers or reduce its regional carrier flying, which could require the Company to fly routes at a greater cost, reduce the number of destinations the Company is able to serve or lead to negative public perceptions of the Company.
Disruptions to our regional networks, the pilot shortage or other factors could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
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Unfavorable economic and political conditions, in the United States and globally, may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company's business and operating results are significantly impacted by U.S. and global economic and political conditions. The airline industry is highly cyclical and the level of demand for air travel is correlated to the strength of the U.S. and global economies, including the strength of the domestic and foreign economies, unemployment levels, consumer confidence levels and the availability of consumer and business credit. Air transportation is often a discretionary purchase that leisure travelers may limit or eliminate during difficult economic times. Short-haul travelers, in particular, have the option to replace air travel with surface travel. In addition, during periods of unfavorable economic conditions, business travelers historically have reduced the volume of their travel, either due to cost-saving initiatives, the replacement of travel with alternatives such as videoconferencing or as a result of decreased business activity requiring travel. Furthermore, an increase in price levels generally or in price levels in a particular sector (such as current rising inflationary pressures related to domestic and global supply chain constraints, which have led to both overall price increases and pronounced price increases in certain sectors) could result in a shift in consumer demand away from both leisure and business travel. Reduced or flat consumer spending may drive us and our competitors to reduce or offer promotional prices, which would negatively impact our gross margin. Any of the foregoing would adversely affect the Company's business and operating results. Significant declines in industry passenger demand, particularly with respect to the Company's business and premium cabin travelers and a reduction in fare levels, as well as the continuing slow return of business travel demand to pre-COVID-19 levels, could lead to a material reduction in revenue, changes to the Company's operations and deferrals of capital expenditure and other spending. Additionally, any deterioration in global trade relations, such as increased tariffs or other trade barriers, could result in a decrease in the demand for international air travel.
The Company's business relies extensively on third-party service providers, including certain technology providers. Failure of these parties to perform as expected, or interruptions in the Company's relationships with these providers or their provision of services to the Company, could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company has engaged third-party service providers to perform a large number of functions that are integral to its business, including regional operations, operation of customer service call centers, distribution and sale of airline seat inventory, provision of information technology infrastructure and services, transmitting or uploading of data, provision of aircraft maintenance and repairs, provision of various utilities and performance of airport ground services, aircraft fueling operations, catering services and air cargo handling services, among other vital functions and services. Although generally the Company enters into agreements that define expected service performance and compliance requirements, there can be no assurance that our third-party service providers will adhere to these requirements. Accordingly, any of these third-party service providers may materially fail to meet their service performance commitments to the Company or may suffer disruptions to their systems, labor groups or supply chains that could impact their services. For example, failures in certain third-party technology or communications systems may cause flight delays or cancellations. The failure of any of the Company's third-party service providers to perform their service obligations adequately, or other interruptions of services, may reduce the Company's revenues and increase its expenses, prevent the Company from operating its flights and providing other services to its customers or result in adverse publicity or harm to our brand. We may also be subject to consequences from any illegal conduct of our third-party service providers, including for their failure to comply with anti-corruption laws, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In addition, the Company's business and financial performance could be materially harmed if its customers believe that its services are unreliable or unsatisfactory.
The Company may also have disagreements with such third-party providers and related contracts may be terminated or may not be extended or renewed. For example, the number of flight reservations booked through third-party GDSs or OTAs may be adversely affected by disruptions in the business relationships between the Company and these suppliers. Such disruptions, including a failure to agree upon acceptable contract terms when contracts expire or otherwise become subject to renegotiation, may cause the Company's flight information to be limited or unavailable for display by the affected GDS or OTA operator, significantly increase fees for both the Company and GDS/OTA users and impair the Company's relationships with its customers and travel agencies. Any such disruptions or contract terminations may adversely impact our operations and financial results.
If we are not able to negotiate or renew agreements with third-party service providers, or if we renew existing agreements on less favorable terms, our operations and financial results may be adversely affected.
Extended interruptions or disruptions in service at major airports where we operate could have a material adverse impact on our operations, including our ability to operate our existing flight schedule and to expand or change our route network in the future, and space, facility and infrastructure constraints at our hubs or other airports may prevent the Company from maintaining existing service and/or implementing new service in a commercially viable manner.
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The airline industry is heavily dependent on business models that concentrate operations in major airports in the United States and throughout the world. An extended interruption or disruption at one of our hubs or other airports where we have a significant presence resulting from ATC delays, weather conditions, natural disasters, growth constraints, relationships with or the performance of third-party service providers, cybersecurity incidents and other failures of computer systems, disruptions to government agencies or personnel (including as a result of government shutdowns), regulatory changes, disruptions at airport facilities or other key facilities used by us to manage our operations, labor relations and market constraints, power supplies, fuel supplies, terrorist activities, international hostilities or other factors could result in the cancellation or delay of a significant portion of our flights and, as a result, could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results and financial condition. For example, we perform significant aircraft and engine maintenance operations at our SFO airport hub and any disruption or interruption at our SFO hub could have a serious impact on our overall operations. We have minimal control over the operation, quality or maintenance of these services or whether our suppliers will improve or continue to provide services that are essential to our business. For example, because we prioritize operational excellence and continually work to optimize our route network and schedule, in light of the industry-wide operational challenges at airports in our network that have limited our system-wide capacity (two of the more prominent examples being the grounding of a number of the Company's transatlantic flights in response to the capacity cut by London Heathrow during the summer of 2022 and the flight disruptions experienced at EWR during the summer of 2023), we have reconfigured our proposed flight schedule and capacity to help improve our operational performance and our customers' experience. These industry-wide operational challenges have had a negative impact on our business and operating results and are expected to continue. In the future, we may not be able to adjust our operations to mitigate their effect, which may have a negative impact on our business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity and limit our ability to expand or change our route network and execute our United Next strategy.
In addition, as airports around the world become more congested, space, facility and infrastructure constraints at our hubs or other airports where we operate now or may operate in the future may prevent the Company from maintaining existing service and/or implementing new service in a commercially viable manner because of a number of factors, including capital improvements at such airports being imposed by the relevant airport authorities without the Company's approval. Capital spending projects of airport authorities currently underway and additional projects that we expect to commence over the next several years are expected to result in increased costs to airlines and the traveling public that use those facilities as the airports seek to recover their investments through increased rental rates, landing fees and other facility costs. These actions have caused and may continue to cause the Company to experience increased space rental rates at various airports in its network, including a number of our hubs and gateways, as well as increased operating costs. Furthermore, the Company is not able to control decisions by other airlines to reduce their capacity, causing certain fixed airport costs to be allocated among fewer total flights and resulting in increased landing fees and other costs for the Company. We have sufficient slots or analogous authorizations to operate our existing flights and we have generally, but not always, been able to obtain the rights to expand our operations and to change our schedules, but there can be no assurance that we can maintain existing service or implement new service in a cost-effective manner in the future.
Geopolitical conflict, terrorist attacks or security events may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As a global business with operations outside of the United States from which it derives significant operating revenues, volatile conditions in certain international regions may have a negative impact on the Company's operating results and its ability to achieve its business objectives. The Company's international operations are a vital part of its worldwide airline network. Political disruptions and instability in certain regions have negatively impacted the demand and network availability for air travel, as well as fuel prices, and may continue to have a negative impact on these and other items. For example, the suspensions of the Company's overflying in Russian airspace as a result of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict and to Tel Aviv as a result of the Israeli-Hamas military conflict have significantly impacted our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. In addition, terrorist attacks or international hostilities, even if not made on or targeted directly at the airline industry, or the fear of or the precautions taken in anticipation of such attacks (including elevated national threat warnings, travel restrictions, selective cancellation or redirection of flights and new security regulations) could materially and adversely affect the Company and the airline industry. The Company's financial resources and insurance coverage may not be sufficient to absorb the adverse effects of any future terrorist attacks, international hostilities or other security events, which could have a material adverse impact on the Company's financial condition, liquidity and operating results. In addition, due to threats against the aviation industry, the Company has incurred, and may continue to incur, significant expenditures to comply with security-related requirements to mitigate threats and protect the safety of our employees and customers.
Any damage to our reputation or brand image could adversely affect our business or financial results.
We operate in a public-facing industry and maintaining a good reputation is critical to our business. The Company's reputation or brand image could be adversely impacted by any failure to maintain satisfactory practices for all of our operations and activities; any failure or perceived failure to achieve and/or make progress toward our environmental, safety, diversity, equity
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and inclusion or other social and governance ("ESG") goals, which are aspirational and subject to risks and uncertainties that are outside of our control; our stakeholders not being satisfied with our ESG goals or strategy or efforts to meet such goals; public pressure from investors or policy groups to change our policies and strategies; customer perceptions of our advertising campaigns, sponsorship arrangements or marketing programs, including greenwashing concerns regarding our advertising campaigns and marketing programs related to our sustainability initiatives; deficiencies in the quantitative data that we disclose in relation to our ESG goals; or customer perceptions of statements made by us, our employees and executives, agents or other third parties. Damage to our reputation or brand image or loss of customer confidence in our services could adversely affect our business and financial results, as well as require additional resources to rebuild our reputation.
Regulators, customers, investors, employees and other stakeholders are focusing more on ESG impacts of operations and related disclosures, which are subject to rules, regulations and standards for collecting, measuring and reporting that are still developing, involve internal controls and processes that continue to evolve, depend in part on third-party performance or data that is outside the Company's control and have resulted in, and are likely to continue to result in, increased general and administrative expenses and increased management time and attention spent complying with or meeting such expectations, rules, regulations and standards. The ongoing relevance of our brand may depend on our ability to achieve our ESG goals, make progress on our ESG initiatives and comply with applicable federal, state and international binding or non-binding legislation, regulation, standards and accords as well as on the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of our disclosures relating to our ESG goals and initiatives and progress towards those goals.
Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Risks
The Company relies heavily on technology and automated systems to operate its business and any significant failure or disruption of, or failure to effectively integrate and implement, these technologies or systems could materially harm its business or business strategy.
The Company depends on technology and automated systems, including artificial intelligence ("AI"), to operate its business, including, but not limited to, computerized airline reservation systems, electronic tickets, electronic airport kiosks, demand prediction software, flight operations systems, in-flight wireless internet, cloud-based technologies, technical and business operations systems and commercial websites and applications, including www.united.com and the United Airlines mobile app. These systems could suffer substantial or repeated disruptions due to various events, some of which are beyond the Company's control (including natural disasters (which may occur more frequently or intensely as a result of the impacts of climate change), power failures, terrorist attacks, dependencies on third-party technology services, equipment or software failures, cybersecurity attacks, insider threats or other security breaches and the deployment by certain wireless carriers of "5G" service networks), which could reduce the attractiveness of the Company's services versus those of our competitors, materially impair our ability to market our services and operate our flights, result in the unauthorized release of confidential or sensitive information, or information that should be protected from inadvertent disclosures, negatively impact our reputation among our customers and the public, subject us to liability to third parties, regulatory action or contract termination and result in other increased costs, lost revenue and the loss of, or compromise to the integrity, availability or confidentiality of, important data. These systems have in the past and may in the future be subject to failure, disruption or cyber incidents as a result of these or other factors. Substantial or repeated systems failures or disruptions may adversely affect the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and business strategy. We have cybersecurity frameworks, resiliency initiatives and disaster recovery plans in place designed to prevent and mitigate disruptions, and we continue to invest in improvements to these initiatives and plans. We also maintain property and business interruption insurance. However, these measures may not be adequate to prevent or mitigate disruptions or provide coverage for the Company's associated costs, some of which may be unforeseeable.
The Company may also face challenges in implementing, integrating and modifying the automated systems and technologies required to operate its business or new systems and technologies designed to enhance its business, each of which may require significant expenditures, human resources, the development of effective internal controls and the transformation of business and financial processes. Our competitors or other third parties may incorporate AI into their products more quickly or more successfully than us, which could impair our ability to compete effectively and adversely affect our results of operations. Additionally, if the content, analyses, or recommendations that AI applications assist in producing are or are alleged to be deficient, inaccurate, or biased, our business, reputation, financial condition, and results of operations may be adversely affected. AI also presents emerging ethical issues, and if our use of AI becomes controversial, we may experience brand or reputational harm, competitive harm, or legal liability. The rapid evolution of AI, including proposed government regulation of AI, may require significant resources to develop, test and maintain our AI platform and services to help us implement AI in a compliant and ethical manner in order to minimize any adverse impact to our business. If the Company is generally unable to timely or effectively implement, integrate or modify its systems and technology, the Company's operations could be adversely affected.
Increasing privacy, data security and cybersecurity obligations or a significant data breach may adversely affect the Company's business.
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In our regular business operations, we collect, process, store and transmit to commercial partners sensitive data, including personal information of our customers and employees such as payment processing information and information of our business partners, to provide our services and operate our business.
The Company must manage increasing legislative, regulatory and consumer focus on privacy issues, data security and cybersecurity risk management in a variety of jurisdictions domestically and across the globe. For example, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation imposes significant privacy and data security requirements, as well as potential for substantial penalties for non-compliance that have resulted in substantial adverse financial consequences to non-compliant companies. Depending on the regulatory interpretation and enforcement of emerging data protection regulations and industry standards, the Company's business operations could be impacted, up to and including being unable to operate, within certain jurisdictions. Also, some of the Company's commercial partners, such as credit card companies, have imposed data security standards that the Company must meet. The Company will continue its efforts to meet its privacy, data security and cybersecurity risk management obligations; however, it is possible that certain new obligations or customer expectations may be difficult to meet and could require changes in the Company's operating processes and increase the Company's costs. Any significant liabilities associated with violations of any related laws or regulations could also have an adverse effect on our business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity, reputation and consumer relationships.
Additionally, the Company must manage the increasing threat of continually evolving cybersecurity risks. Our network, systems and storage applications, and those systems and applications maintained by our third-party commercial partners (such as aircraft and engine suppliers, cloud computing companies, credit card companies, regional airline carriers and international airline partners) have been and likely will continue to be subject to attempts to gain unauthorized access, breaches, malfeasance or other system disruptions, including those involving criminal hackers, denial of service attacks, hacktivists, state-sponsored actors, corporate espionage, employee malfeasance and human or technological error. In some cases, it is difficult to anticipate or to detect immediately such incidents and the damage caused thereby, and we may not be able to realize the benefits of our proactive defense measures and may experience operational difficulty in implementing them. Our use of AI applications has resulted in, and may in the future result in cybersecurity incidents that implicate the personal data of our customers, employees or users of such applications. In addition, as attacks by cybercriminals and nation state actors become more sophisticated, frequent and intense, the costs of proactive defense measures have increased and will likely continue to increase. Furthermore, the Company's remote work arrangements may make it more vulnerable to targeted activity from cybercriminals and significantly increase the risk of cyberattacks or other security breaches. While we continually work to safeguard our network, systems and applications, including through risk assessments, system monitoring, cybersecurity and data protection policies, processes and technologies and employee awareness and training, and seek to require that third-parties adhere to security standards, there is no assurance that such actions will be sufficient to prevent actual or perceived cybersecurity incidents or data breaches or the damages and impacts to our business that result therefrom.
Any such cybersecurity incident or data breach could result in significant costs, including monetary damages, operational impacts, including service interruptions and delays, and reputational harm. Furthermore, the loss, disclosure, misappropriation of or access to sensitive Company information, customers', employees' or business partners' information or the Company's failure to meet its privacy or data protection obligations could result in legal claims or proceedings, penalties and remediation costs. A significant data breach or the Company's failure to meet its data privacy or data protection obligations may adversely affect the Company's operations, reputation, relationships with our business partners, business, operating results, financial condition and business strategy.
Increased use of social media platforms present risks and challenges.
We are increasing our use of social media to communicate Company news and events. The inappropriate and/or unauthorized use of certain media vehicles could cause brand damage or information leakage or could lead to legal implications, including from the improper collection and/or dissemination of personally identifiable information from employees, customers or other stakeholders. In addition, negative or inaccurate posts or comments about us on any social networking website could damage our reputation, brand image and goodwill. Further, the disclosure of non-public Company-sensitive information by our workforce or others, whether intentional or unintentional, through external media channels could lead to information loss and reputational or competitive harm.
Human Capital Management Risks
Union disputes, employee strikes or slowdowns, and other labor-related disruptions or regulatory compliance costs could adversely affect the Company's operations and could result in increased costs that impair its financial performance.
United is a highly unionized company. As of December 31, 2023, the Company and its subsidiaries had approximately 103,300 employees, of whom approximately 83% were represented by various U.S. labor organizations. See Part I, Item 1. Business—Human Capital Management and Resources of this report for additional information on our represented employee groups and
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collective bargaining agreements. There is a risk that unions or individual employees might pursue judicial or arbitral claims arising out of changes implemented as a result of the Company entering into collective bargaining agreements with its represented employee groups. There is also a possibility that employees or unions could engage in job actions such as slowdowns, work-to-rule campaigns, sick-outs or other actions designed to disrupt the Company's normal operations, in an attempt to pressure the Company in collective bargaining negotiations. Although the Railway Labor Act makes such actions unlawful until the parties have been lawfully released to self-help, and the Company can seek injunctive relief against premature self-help, such actions can cause significant harm even if ultimately enjoined. Similarly, if the operations of our third-party regional carriers, ground handlers or other vendors are impacted by labor-related disruptions, our operations could be adversely affected. In addition, collective bargaining agreements with the Company's represented employee groups increase the Company's labor costs and such costs could become material. We remain in negotiations regarding certain of these collective bargaining agreements and anticipate that any new contracts involving the relevant labor groups may include material increases in salaries and other benefits, which would significantly increase our labor expense. Furthermore, there is increasing litigation in the airline industry over the application of state and local employment and labor laws to airline employees, particularly those based in California. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of a Ninth Circuit ruling which held that federal law did not preempt California state meal and rest break laws from applying to certain California based flight attendants. This decision adversely affects the Company's defenses with respect to certain employee groups in California and it may give rise to additional litigation in these and other areas previously found to be preempted by federal law. The Company is a defendant in a number of proceedings regarding alleged non-compliance with wage and hour laws. Adverse decisions in these cases could adversely impact our operational flexibility, uniform application of our negotiated collective bargaining agreements, and result in imposition of damages and fines which could be significant.
If we are unable to attract, train or retain skilled personnel, including our senior management team or other key employees, our business could be adversely affected.
Much of our future success is largely dependent on our continued ability to attract, train and retain skilled personnel with industry experience and knowledge, including our senior management team and other key employees. Competition for qualified talent in the aviation industry is intense and labor market constraints may arise in the future. If we are unable to attract, train and retain talented, highly qualified employees or experience a shortage of skilled labor, the cost of hiring and retaining quality talent could materially increase and our operations could continue to be impacted, which could impair our ability to adjust capacity or otherwise execute our strategic operating plan. In addition, if we are unable to effectively provide for the succession of senior management or other key employees, our business, ability to execute our strategic operating plan or company culture may be adversely affected.
Regulatory, Tax, Litigation and Legal Compliance Risks
The airline industry is subject to extensive government regulation, which imposes significant costs and may adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
Airlines are subject to extensive regulatory and legal oversight. Compliance with U.S. and international regulations imposes significant costs and may have adverse effects on the Company.
United provides air transportation under certificates of public convenience and necessity issued by the DOT. If the DOT modified, suspended or revoked these certificates, it could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business. The DOT also regulates consumer protection and, through its investigations or rulemaking authority (including, for example, the DOT's recent enforcement settlement against Southwest Airlines for its operational disruption resulting in an announced fine of $140 million, and any rulemakings or initiatives in response to the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy issued by the President on July 9, 2021), could impose restrictions that materially impact the Company's business. United also operates pursuant to an air carrier operating certificate issued by the FAA and FAA orders and directives have previously resulted in the temporary grounding of an entire aircraft type when the FAA identifies design, manufacturing, maintenance or other issues requiring immediate corrective action (including the FAA Emergency Airworthiness Directives suspending service of the Company's Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in January 2024 and grounding our Boeing 777 Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft in February 2021), which has had and could in the future have a material effect on the Company's business, operating results and financial condition.
In 2018, the U.S. Congress approved a five-year reauthorization for the FAA, which encompasses a range of policy issues related to aviation tax, airline customer service and aviation safety. The current authorization was recently extended to March 8, 2024, and the legislative process to renew this authorization (the "FAA Authorization Renewal") could impact the Company by imposing new rules or regulations concerning, among other things, airline customer service, aviation safety, labor, managing new entrants in the U.S. national airspace system, as well as new or increased fees or taxes intended to fund these policies. Any new or enhanced requirements resulting from the FAA Authorization Renewal may materially impact our operations and costs.
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Additionally, the U.S. Congress may consider legislation related to environmental issues relevant to the airline industry, such as the implementation of CORSIA, which could negatively impact the Company and the airline industry.
The Company's operations may also be adversely impacted due to the existing antiquated ATC system utilized by the U.S. government and regulated by the FAA, which may not be able to effectively handle projected future air traffic growth. The outdated ATC system has led to short-term capacity constraints imposed by government agencies and has resulted in delays and disruptions of air traffic during peak travel periods in certain markets due to its inability to handle demand and reduced resiliency in the event of a failure causing flight cancellations and delays. Failure to update the ATC system in a timely manner and the substantial funding requirements of a modernized ATC system that may be imposed on air carriers may have an adverse impact on the Company's financial condition or operating results.
Access to slots at several major U.S. airports and many foreign airports served by the Company is subject to government regulation on airspace management and competition that might limit the number of slots or change the rules on the use and transfer of slots. If slots are eliminated at one of our hubs or other airports, or if the number of hours of operation governed by slots is reduced at an airport, the lack of controls on take-offs and landings could result in greater congestion both at the affected airport and in the regional airspace and could significantly impact the Company's operations. Similarly, a government or regulatory agency, including DOT, could choose to impose slot restrictions at one of our hubs or other airports or grant increased access to another carrier and limit or reduce our operations at an airport, whether or not slot-controlled, which could have significant impact on our operations. The DOT (including FAA) may limit the Company's airport access by limiting the number of departure and arrival slots at congested airports, which could affect the Company's ownership and transfer rights, and local airport authorities may have the ability to control access to certain facilities or the cost to access their facilities, which could have an adverse effect on the Company's business. If the DOT were to take actions that adversely affect the Company's slot holdings, the Company could incur substantial costs to preserve its slots or may lose slots.
The Company currently operates a number of flights on international routes under government arrangements, regulations or policies that designate the number of carriers permitted to operate on such routes, the capacity of the carriers providing services on such routes, the airports at which carriers may operate international flights or the number of carriers allowed access to particular airports. Applicable arrangements between the United States and foreign governments (such as Open Skies) may be amended from time to time, government policies with respect to airport operations may be revised and the availability of appropriate slots or facilities may change, which could have a material adverse impact on the Company's financial condition and operating results and could result in the impairment of material amounts of related tangible and intangible assets. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased regulatory burdens in the U.S. and around the globe, which included closure of international borders to flights and/or passengers from specific countries, passenger and crew quarantine requirements and other regulations promulgated to protect public health but that have had and may continue to have a negative impact on travel and airline operations.
In addition, disruptions to the Company's business could result from the deployment of new cellular networks (e.g., "5G") by wireless carriers, which, due to potential interference with aircraft systems, could cause flights to be cancelled or diverted, which in turn could affect consumer perceptions of the safety of air travel. For example, over the past two years regulators have addressed potential "5G" interference on a temporary and piecemeal basis tailored to specific aircraft and airports, which could occur again. Systematic regulation of the overlap between aviation systems and cellular networks may not occur in the near term or may not involve terms that are favorable to the Company.
Moreover, any legislation that would result in a reshaping of the benefits that the Company is able to provide to its consumers through the co-branded credit cards issued by our partner could also materially negatively affect the Company's profitability and competitive position.
In addition, competition from revenue-sharing JBAs and other alliance arrangements by and among other airlines could impair the value of the Company's business and assets on the Open Skies routes. The Company's plans to enter into or expand U.S. antitrust immunized alliances and JBAs on various international routes are subject to receipt of approvals from applicable U.S. federal authorities and other applicable foreign government clearances or satisfaction of other applicable regulatory requirements. There can be no assurance that such approvals and clearances will be granted or will continue in effect upon further regulatory review or that changes in regulatory requirements or standards can be satisfied.
See Part I, Item 1. Business—Industry Regulation, of this report for additional information on government regulation impacting the Company.
Current or future litigation and regulatory actions, or failure to comply with the terms of any settlement, order or agreement relating to these actions, could have a material adverse impact on the Company.
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From time to time, we are subject to litigation and other legal and regulatory proceedings relating to our business or investigations or other actions by governmental agencies, including as described in Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings, of this report. In addition, the Company was subject to an increased risk of litigation and other proceedings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and responsive measures. For example, the Company is involved in litigation relating to its vaccination requirements for employees. No assurances can be given that the results of these or new matters will be favorable to us. An adverse resolution of lawsuits, arbitrations, investigations or other proceedings or actions could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results, including as a result of non-monetary remedies, and could also result in adverse publicity. Defending ourselves in these matters may be time-consuming, expensive and disruptive to normal business operations and may result in significant expense and a diversion of management's time and attention from the operation of our business, which could impede our ability to achieve our business objectives. Additionally, any amount that we may be required to pay to satisfy a judgment, settlement, fine or penalty may not be covered by insurance. If we fail to comply with the terms contained in any settlement, order or agreement with a governmental authority relating to these matters, we could be subject to criminal or civil penalties, which could have a material adverse impact on the Company. Under our charter and certain indemnification agreements that we have entered into (and may in the future enter into) with our officers, directors and certain third parties, we could be required to indemnify and advance expenses to them in connection with their involvement in certain actions, suits, investigations and other proceedings. Any of these payments may be material.
We are subject to many forms of environmental regulation and liability as well as risks associated with climate change and may incur substantial costs as a result. In addition, failure to achieve or demonstrate progress towards our climate goals may expose us to liability and reputational harm.
Many aspects of the Company's operations are subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and international laws regarding the environment, including those relating to water discharges, safe drinking water and the use and management of hazardous materials and wastes. Compliance with existing and future environmental laws and regulations has required and may in the future require significant expenditures and operational changes. Violations have led and may in the future lead to significant fines, penalties, lawsuits and reputational harm. In addition, we have in the past been identified and may in the future be identified as a responsible party for environmental investigation and remediation costs under applicable environmental laws due to the disposal or release of hazardous substances generated by our operations, including PFAS, which are expected to be designated by U.S. EPA as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act. We could also be subject to environmental liability claims from various parties, including airport authorities and other third parties, related to our operations at our owned or leased premises, including our use of PFAS-containing fire suppression systems as required by fire codes, or the off-site disposal of waste generated at our facilities.
As discussed in Part I, Item 1. Business—Environmental, Social and Governance Approach—Environmental Sustainability Strategy, the Company has made several commitments regarding its intended reduction of carbon emissions, including reducing its GHG emissions by 100% by 2050 and by reducing its carbon emission intensity by 50% by 2035 compared to 2019. The Company has incurred, and expects to continue to incur, costs to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions, which will involve a transition to lower-carbon technologies (such as SAF), and to comply with environmental sustainability legislation and regulation and non-binding standards and accords. Such activity may require the Company to modify its supply chain practices, make capital investments to modify certain aspects of its operations or increase its operating costs (including fuel costs). The potential transition cost to a lower-carbon economy could be prohibitively expensive without appropriate government policies and incentives in place. The precise nature of future binding or non-binding legislation, regulation, standards and accords in this area of increased focus by global, national and regional regulators is difficult to predict and the financial impact to the Company would likely be significant if future legal standards do not align with the Company's plans to achieve its climate goals or if U.S. legislation establishing financial incentives to accelerate the production of SAF development expires and is not renewed. For instance, CORSIA-related costs cannot be fully predicted at this time, but the program, which requires the purchasing of carbon offsets, is expected to increase operating costs for airlines that operate internationally. There is also a risk that the increased regulatory focus on airline GHG emissions could result in a patchwork of inconsistent or conflicting regional requirements that could unduly shift excessive cost burden to airlines and inhibit the development of carbon reduction technologies that the Company needs to reach its climate goals. The Company believes that climate change presents, along with challenges, strategic opportunities and that the sustainability-related solutions the Company is pursuing to advance its climate goals will help mitigate several of these potential risks posed by the transition to a lower-carbon economy. While the Company has not yet purchased carbon offsets for CORSIA compliance, the Company anticipates being required to do so by January 2028 if a regulatory framework to implement CORSIA within the United States is established. There is a risk that insufficient CORSIA-eligible carbon offsets will be available for purchase for CORSIA compliance, leading to potential regulatory enforcement risks. There is also a risk that any carbon offsets purchased by the Company for CORSIA compliance, even if accepted by regulators, could be viewed by third parties as not sufficiently reflecting real, verifiable, and additional GHG reductions, leading to reputational harm.
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There can be no assurance of the extent to which any of our climate goals will be achieved or that any current or future investments that we make in furtherance of achieving our climate goals will produce the expected results or meet stakeholders' evolving expectations. Moreover, future events could lead the Company to prioritize other nearer-term interests over progressing toward our current climate goals based on business strategy, economic, regulatory and social factors or pressure from investors, activist groups or other stakeholders. If we fail—or are perceived to fail—to meet or properly report on our progress toward achieving our climate change goals and commitments, we could face adverse publicity and reactions from investors, activist groups, or other stakeholders, which could result in reputational harm, liability or other adverse effects to the Company. In addition, the Company believes it is possible that, in the future, segments of the public may choose to fly less frequently as a result of negative perception of the environmental impact of air travel or fly on an airline based on carriers' GHG emissions or which carrier they perceive as operating in a manner that is more sustainable to the climate, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the Company and is why the Company is resolute in attaining its mid-term and long-term climate goals; if this trend materializes, the Company's results of operations could be adversely impacted and those impacts could be exacerbated if the Company fails to meet or properly report on its climate change goals and commitments. Moreover, we could also be subject to climate litigation, as groups, individuals, and governmental authorities affected by climate change seek to recover climate-related damages from entities they perceive as being partially responsible for human-induced climate change because of the emission of GHGs from their operations.
The Company's key pathways to achieving its climate goals include investing in and using more SAF, reducing its conventional jet fuel consumption and working with strategic partners to advance the future of more sustainable flight. The Company has been able to increase its purchases of SAF in recent years due to its corporate customers' funding of the price premium for SAF through the Company's Eco-Skies Alliance, but the willingness of corporate customers to assist the Company in covering the price premium for SAF in the future could decrease, including based on economic factors or concerns regarding the validity of a book and claim approach for claiming the emissions reductions from SAF, or emerging SAF certification schemes developed by non-governmental organizations or practices whereby corporate customers purchase the environmental attributes from SAF directly from fuel producers, bypassing the airlines.
The Company may incur substantial costs and operational disruptions as a result of both its physical risks (such as extreme weather conditions or rising sea levels) and transition risks (such as regulatory or technological changes) associated with climate change. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, severity, unpredictability and duration of severe weather events and other natural cycles and could affect travel demand as well as result in increases in delays and cancellations, turbulence-related injuries and fuel consumption to avoid such weather, any of which could result in a significant loss of revenue and higher costs. In addition, certain of our operations and facilities around the world are in locations that may be impacted by the physical impacts of climate change and we could incur significant costs to improve the climate resiliency of our infrastructure and supply chain and otherwise prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the effects of climate change. We are not able to reasonably predict the future materiality of any potential losses or costs associated with the effects of climate change.
See Part I, Item 1. Business—Industry Regulation—Environmental Regulation, of this report for additional information on environmental regulation impacting the Company.
Market, Liquidity, Accounting and Financial Risks
High and/or volatile fuel prices or significant disruptions in the supply of aircraft fuel could have a material adverse impact on the Company's strategic plans, operating results, financial condition and liquidity.
Aircraft fuel is critical to the Company's operations and is one of our largest operating expenses. During the year ended December 31, 2023, the Company's fuel expense was approximately $12.7 billion. The timely and adequate supply of fuel to meet operational demand depends on the continued availability of reliable fuel supply sources as well as related service and delivery infrastructure. Although the Company has some ability to cover short-term fuel supply and infrastructure disruptions at some major demand locations, it depends significantly on the continued performance of its vendors and service providers to maintain supply integrity. Consequently, the Company can neither predict nor guarantee the continued timely availability of aircraft fuel throughout the Company's system.
Aircraft fuel has historically been the Company's most volatile operating expense due to the highly unpredictable nature of market prices for fuel. The Company generally sources fuel at prevailing market prices, which have historically fluctuated substantially in short periods of time and continue to be highly volatile due to a multitude of unpredictable factors beyond the Company's control, including changes in global crude oil prices, the balance between aircraft fuel supply and demand, natural disasters, prevailing inventory levels and fuel production and transportation infrastructure. Prices of fuel are also impacted by indirect factors, such as geopolitical events, economic growth indicators, fiscal/monetary policies, fuel tax policies, changes in regulations, environmental concerns and financial investments in energy markets. Both actual changes in these factors, as well as changes in related market expectations, can potentially drive rapid changes in fuel prices in short periods of time. Rising fuel
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prices can also lead to constraints on the Company's regional partners, reduced capital available for other spending or other outcomes that could adversely impact the Company.
Given the highly competitive nature of the airline industry, the Company historically had limited ability to, and may not be able to in the future, increase its fares and fees sufficiently to offset the full impact of increases in fuel prices, especially if these increases are significant, rapid and sustained. Further, any such fare or fee increase may not be sustainable, may reduce the general demand for air travel and may also eventually impact the Company's operations, strategic growth and investment plans for the future. In addition, decreases in fuel prices for an extended period of time may result in increased industry capacity, increased competitive actions for market share and lower fares or surcharges. If fuel prices were to then subsequently rise quickly, there may be a lag between the rise in fuel prices and any improvement of the revenue environment.
The Company does not currently hedge its future fuel requirements. However, to the extent the Company decides to start a hedging program to hedge a portion of its future fuel requirements, such hedging program may not be successful in mitigating higher fuel costs and any price protection provided may be limited due to the choice of hedging instruments and market conditions, including breakdown of correlation between hedging instrument and market price of aircraft fuel and failure of hedge counterparties. To the extent that the Company decides to use hedge contracts that have the potential to create an obligation to pay upon settlement if fuel prices decline significantly, such hedge contracts may limit the Company's ability to benefit fully from lower fuel prices in the future. If fuel prices decline significantly from the levels existing at the time the Company enters into a hedge contract, the Company may be required to post collateral (margin) beyond certain thresholds. There can be no assurance that the Company's hedging arrangements, if any, would provide any particular level of protection against rises in fuel prices or that its counterparties will be able to perform under the Company's hedging arrangements. Additionally, deterioration in the Company's financial condition could negatively affect its ability to enter into hedge contracts in the future.
The Company has a significant amount of financial leverage from fixed obligations and insufficient liquidity may have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition and business.
The Company has a significant amount of financial leverage from fixed obligations, including aircraft lease and debt financings, leases of airport property, secured bonds, secured loan facilities and other facilities, and other material cash obligations. In addition, the Company has substantial noncancelable commitments for capital expenditures, including for the acquisition of new aircraft and related spare engines. If the Company's liquidity is materially diminished, the Company's substantial level of indebtedness, the Company's non-investment grade credit ratings and the lack of availability of Company assets as collateral for loans or other indebtedness may make it difficult for the Company to raise additional capital if needed to meet its liquidity needs on acceptable terms, or at all, and the Company may not be able to timely pay its leases and debts or comply with material provisions of its contractual obligations, including covenants under its financing and credit card processing agreements.
In addition to the foregoing, the degree to which we are leveraged could have important consequences to holders of our securities, including the following: (1) we must dedicate a substantial portion of cash flow from operations to the payment of principal and interest on applicable indebtedness, which, in turn, reduces funds available for operations and capital expenditures; (2) our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in the markets in which we compete may be limited; (3) we may be at a competitive disadvantage relative to our competitors with less indebtedness; (4) we are rendered more vulnerable to general adverse economic and industry conditions; (5) we are exposed to increased interest rate risk given that a portion of our indebtedness obligations are at variable interest rates; and (6) our credit ratings may be reduced and our debt and equity securities may significantly decrease in value.
See Part II, Item 7., Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, of this report for additional information regarding the Company's liquidity.
Agreements governing our debt include financial and other covenants. Failure to comply with these covenants could result in events of default.
Our financing agreements include various financial and other covenants. Certain of these covenants require UAL or United, as applicable, to maintain minimum liquidity and/or minimum collateral coverage ratios. UAL's or United's ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events beyond its control, including the overall industry revenue environment, the level of fuel costs and the appraised value of the collateral. In addition, our financing agreements contain other negative covenants customary for such financings. If we fail to comply with these covenants and are unable to remedy or obtain a waiver or amendment, an event of default would result.
If an event of default were to occur, the lenders could, among other things, declare outstanding amounts immediately due and payable. In addition, an event of default or declaration of acceleration under one financing agreement could also result in an
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event of default under other of our financing agreements due to cross-default and cross-acceleration provisions. The acceleration of significant amounts of debt could require us to renegotiate, repay or refinance the obligations under our financing arrangements, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so on commercially reasonable terms or at all.
The MileagePlus Financing agreements in particular contain stringent covenants, limit our flexibility to manage our capital structure and limit our ability to make financial and operational changes to the MileagePlus program. If we were to default under the MileagePlus Financing agreements, the lenders' exercise of remedies could result in our loss of the MileagePlus program, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. As a result we may take actions to ensure that the MileagePlus Financing debt is satisfied or that the lenders' remedies under such debt are not exercised, potentially to the detriment of our other creditors.
The Company's ability to use its net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income for U.S. federal income tax purposes may be significantly limited due to various circumstances, including certain possible future transactions involving the sale or issuance of UAL common stock, or if taxable income does not reach sufficient levels.
As of December 31, 2023, UAL reported consolidated U.S. federal net operating loss ("NOL") carryforwards of approximately $12.0 billion. The Company's ability to use its NOL carryforwards and certain other tax attributes will depend on the amount of taxable income it generates in future periods and, as a result, certain of the Company's NOL carryforwards and other tax attributes may expire before it can generate sufficient taxable income to use them in full. In addition, the Company's ability to use its NOL carryforwards and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income may be limited if it experiences an "ownership change" as defined in Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Potential future transactions involving the sale or issuance of UAL common stock may increase the possibility that the Company will experience a future "ownership change" under Section 382. Such transactions may include the exercise of warrants issued in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act") programs, the issuance of UAL common stock for cash, the conversion of any future convertible debt, the repurchase of any debt with the Company's common stock, the acquisition or disposition of any stock by a stockholder owning 5% or more of the outstanding shares of UAL common stock, or a combination of the foregoing.
The Company has established a tax benefits preservation plan (the "Plan") in order to preserve the Company's ability to use its NOLs and certain other tax attributes to reduce potential future income tax obligations. On December 4, 2023, the Company entered into an amendment to extend the Plan until December 4, 2026, subject to stockholder approval at the Company's 2024 annual meeting of stockholders. The Plan is designed to reduce the likelihood that the Company experiences an "ownership change" by deterring certain acquisitions of Company securities. There is no assurance, however, that the deterrent mechanism in the Plan will be effective, and such acquisitions may still occur. In addition, the Plan may adversely affect the marketability of UAL common stock by discouraging existing or potential investors from acquiring UAL common stock or additional shares of UAL common stock because any non-exempt third party that acquires 4.9% or more of the then-outstanding shares of UAL common stock would suffer substantial dilution of its ownership interest in the Company.
The Company may never realize the full value of its intangible assets or its long-lived assets causing it to record impairments that may negatively affect its financial condition and operating results.
In accordance with applicable accounting standards, the Company is required to test its indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment on an annual basis, or more frequently where there is an indication of impairment, and certain of its other assets for impairment where there is any indication that an asset may be impaired. The Company may be required to recognize losses in the future due to, among other factors, extreme fuel price volatility, tight credit markets, government regulatory changes, decline in the fair values of certain tangible or intangible assets, such as our aircraft, route authorities, airport slots and frequent flyer database, unfavorable trends in historical or forecasted results of operations and cash flows and an uncertain economic environment, as well as other uncertainties. For example, during 2021, the Company recorded $97 million of impairments, which includes impairments resulting from current market conditions for used aircraft that are being held for sale and the decision to retire single-cabin 50-seat regional aircraft as a result of the 2021 United Next order. The Company can provide no assurance that a material impairment loss of tangible or intangible assets will not occur in a future period.
The price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly.
The closing price for our common stock has varied between a high of $57.61 and a low of $33.90 in the year ended December 31, 2023. Volatility in the market price of our common stock may prevent holders from selling shares at or above the prices paid for them. The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly for various reasons which include: the market reaction to events like the COVID-19 pandemic and our responses thereto; changes in the prices or availability of oil or jet fuel; our quarterly or annual earnings or those of other companies in our industry; changes in our earnings or recommendations by research analysts who track our common stock or the stock of other airlines; the public's reaction to our
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press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the SEC; changes in the competitive landscape for the airline industry, including any changes resulting from industry consolidation whether or not involving our Company; an accident, catastrophe or incident involving an aircraft that the Company operates; mandatory grounding of an aircraft that the Company operates; changes in general conditions in the United States and global economy, financial markets or airline industry, including those resulting from changes in fuel prices or fuel shortages, war, incidents of terrorism, pandemics or responses to such events; our liquidity position; the sale of substantial amounts of our common stock; and the other risks described in these "Risk Factors."
In addition, in recent periods, the stock market has experienced extreme declines and volatility. This volatility has had a significant negative impact on the market price of securities issued by many companies, including us and other companies in our industry.
The Company's operating results fluctuate due to seasonality and other factors associated with the airline industry, many of which are beyond the Company's control.
Due to greater demand for air travel during the spring and summer months, revenues in the airline industry in the second and third quarters of the year are generally stronger than revenues in the first and fourth quarters of the year, which are periods of lower travel demand. The Company's operating results generally reflect this seasonality but have also been impacted by numerous other factors that are not necessarily seasonal, including, among others, extreme or severe weather, outbreaks of disease, public health issues (including global health epidemics or pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the potential increased government restrictions and regulation), ATC congestion, geological events, political instability, terrorism, natural disasters, changes in the competitive environment due to industry consolidation, tax obligations, general economic conditions and other factors, as well as related consumer perceptions. Such factors have adversely affected, and could in the future adversely affect, the Company. As a result, the Company's quarterly operating results are not necessarily indicative of operating results for an entire year and historical operating results in a quarterly or annual period are not necessarily indicative of future operating results.
Increases in insurance costs or inadequate insurance coverage may materially and adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company maintains insurance policies, including, but not limited to, terrorism, aviation hull and liability, workers' compensation and property and business interruption insurance, but we are not fully insured against all potential hazards and risks incident to our business. If the Company is unable to obtain sufficient insurance with acceptable terms, the costs of such insurance increase materially, or if the coverage obtained is unable to pay or is insufficient relative to actual liability or losses that the Company experiences, whether due to insurance market conditions, policy limitations and exclusions or otherwise, our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.
None.
ITEM 1C.    CYBERSECURITY.
Board and Management Oversight of Cybersecurity Risks
The Company considers management of cybersecurity and digital risk as essential for enabling success. The Audit Committee (the "Audit Committee") of the Board provides oversight of the Company's risk assessment and risk management policies and strategies with respect to significant business risks, including cybersecurity and digital risk. On a regular basis, the Audit Committee receives reports from the Company's Chief Information Security Officer ("CISO") or her representative(s) regarding the identification and management of cybersecurity risks, including when applicable, notable cybersecurity threats or incidents impacting the aviation sector or the Company, results of independent third-party assessments of the Company's cybersecurity program, key metrics, capabilities, resourcing and strategy regarding the Company's cybersecurity program and updates related to cybersecurity regulatory developments.
The Company's CISO leads the Cybersecurity and Digital Risk ("CDR") organization, which oversees the approach to identifying and managing cybersecurity and digital risk. The Company's current CISO has extensive technology and risk management experience in critical infrastructure sectors and is qualified as a boardroom certified technology expert by the Digital Directors Network. She serves on the U.S. President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council, examining and providing recommendations related to cross-sector critical infrastructure security and resilience. She serves on the board of directors of the Internet Security Alliance, has served, and continues to serve, as Chair of the Cybersecurity Council at Airlines for America, and has served as Chair and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Aviation Information Sharing
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and Analysis Center (A-ISAC). The CDR organization includes teams focusing on Cyber Defense, Identity & Digital Trust, and Secure Product Solutions & Aircraft Cybersecurity Operations. The teams include individuals with a broad array of cybersecurity expertise, including experience in offensive cybersecurity; application cybersecurity; product cybersecurity; cloud cybersecurity; infrastructure cybersecurity; cybersecurity systems; engineering and architecture; information technology cybersecurity; operational technology cybersecurity; identity and access management; vulnerability and asset management; cybersecurity threat intelligence; cybersecurity regulatory compliance; digital fraud; digital trust; incident response; insider threat assessment; and aircraft cybersecurity.
The Company's senior leadership, including the Safety, Legal, Government Affairs, Operations, Aviation Security, Finance, Communications and Digital Technology functions, as well as others as needed, support the CDR and contribute to the management of cybersecurity and digital risk by attending regular cybersecurity risk reviews and participating in cybersecurity drills.
Cybersecurity Risk Management and Strategy
The Company established a risk-based strategy informed by guiding principles from industry standard cybersecurity and risk management frameworks, such as those published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Company's cybersecurity risk management framework is integrated with the Company's Enterprise Risk Management ("ERM") process that is subject to oversight by the Board. Cybersecurity risks are one of the key risks regularly evaluated, assessed and monitored as part of the Company's overall ERM process.
As part of its risk-based strategy, the Company maintains appropriate technical and organizational measures and regularly reviews the appropriateness of those controls considering changes to the technical or regulatory environment. The Company also regularly incorporates cybersecurity awareness training into employee communications, engagement and training activities. The Company participates in various information sharing organizations to timely share and receive threat information, thereby improving the collective defense of the aviation and other critical infrastructure sectors. The Company regularly seeks opportunities to improve its capabilities, including through cybersecurity trainings and skill development programs for its CDR members.
The Company utilizes a variety of third parties in connection with its cybersecurity risk management. For example, the Company uses the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's Known Exploitable Vulnerabilities Catalog, the MITRE Corporation's Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database and other threat intelligence portals and feeds to identify vulnerabilities. The Company also employs third-party cybersecurity companies to add capacity or expertise when necessary. Additionally, regular assessments of the Company's cybersecurity program are conducted by independent third-party assessors.
The Company is subject to cybersecurity risks related to its business partners and third-party service providers, as further detailed under the heading "Increasing privacy, data security and cybersecurity obligations or a significant data breach may adversely affect the Company's business" included as part of our risk factor disclosures in Part I, Item 1A. of this report. To manage these risks, the Company has integrated third-party incidents into its cybersecurity incident response processes. The Company also conducts evaluations and assessments of key suppliers based on risk and seeks to incorporate appropriate measures to manage the risk. The Company also regularly monitors the external cybersecurity posture of thousands of third parties through various service providers.
Crucially, the Company, or its third-party service providers it may rely on, may not be able to design or implement technical or organizational controls comprehensively, consistently or effectively as intended to protect the confidentiality, integrity or availability of systems and data. Because the Company utilizes a risk-based strategy, based on professional judgment and analysis of the risks, it is possible that the Company may underappreciate or not recognize a specific risk. Moreover, even the best designed and implemented security controls may not eliminate cybersecurity incidents.
Cybersecurity Incident Management
The CDR organization uses a variety of prevention and detection tools and other resources to identify potential cybersecurity incidents. When a cybersecurity incident is identified, CDR's incident response team engages with the appropriate subject matter experts, the relevant management of impacted organization(s) and others to analyze, contain, eradicate, mitigate, and recover from the incident as applicable. Throughout the incident response process, CDR leadership, the CISO and the Company's Chief Legal Officer are informed and consulted. As appropriate, incidents are escalated for review by the Senior Leader Crisis Team (the "SLCT"), which consists of cross-functional leaders of the Company. A subgroup of the Company's Disclosure Council assesses the information reviewed by the SLCT and makes a recommendation regarding the cybersecurity incident's materiality to the full Disclosure Council and subsequently to the Audit Committee. Additionally, the CDR organization has frequent operating rhythms to, among other things, review cybersecurity incidents and track the progress of
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cybersecurity initiatives. The SLCT also meets according to regular operating rhythms to review cybersecurity incidents and stay informed of evolving cybersecurity risks.
The Company faces risks from cybersecurity threats, including as a result of any cybersecurity incidents, that could have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect its business strategy, results of operations, and financial condition, cash flows or reputation. Although to our knowledge such risks have not materially affected us in the last three fiscal years, from time to time the Company has experienced and will continue to experience cybersecurity incidents, whether directly or through our supply chain or other channels, in the normal course of its business. For more information about the cybersecurity-related risks that the Company faces, see the risks detailed under the headings "The Company relies heavily on technology and automated systems to operate its business and any significant failure or disruption of, or failure to effectively integrate and implement, these technologies or systems could materially harm its business" and "Increasing privacy and data security obligations or a significant data breach may adversely affect the Company's business" included as part of our risk factor disclosures in Part I, Item 1A. of this Form 10-K.
ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES.
Fleet. As of December 31, 2023, United's mainline and regional fleets consisted of the following:
Aircraft TypeTotalOwnedLeasedSeats in Standard Configuration Average Age
(In Years)
Mainline: 
777-300ER22 22 — 350 6.0 
777-200ER55 54 276-36223.8 
777-20019 19 — 364 26.5 
787-1021 21 — 318 3.2 
787-938 34 257 6.3 
787-812 12 — 243 10.5 
767-400ER16 16 — 231 22.3 
767-300ER37 37 — 167-20327.8 
757-30021 21 — 234 21.3 
757-20040 39 176 26.9 
737 MAX 979 63 16 179 2.0 
737 MAX 880 34 46 166 1.0 
737-900ER136 136 — 179 11.0 
737-90012 10 179 22.3 
737-800141 119 22 166 19.8 
737-70040 38 126 24.8 
A321neo— 200 0.1 
A320-20091 81 10 150 24.9 
A319-10081 52 29 126 22.1 
Total mainline945 812 133 16.0 
Aircraft TypeTotalOwnedOwned or Leased by Regional CarrierRegional Carrier Operator and Number of AircraftSeats in Standard Configuration
Regional:  
Embraer E175/E175LL189 73 116 SkyWest:
Mesa:
Republic:
90
54
45
70/76
Embraer 17021 — 21 Republic:21 70 
CRJ90026 — 26 Mesa:26 76 
CRJ70019 — 19 SkyWest:19 70 
CRJ55035 33 GoJet:35 50 
CRJ20070 — 70 SkyWest:70 50 
Embraer ERJ 145XR53 53 — CommuteAir:53 50 
Total regional413 128 285 
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In addition to the aircraft presented in the table above, United owned or leased the following regional aircraft as of December 31, 2023:
• 24 CRJ550s, 26 E175/E175LLs and 45 Embraer ERJ 145s that were temporarily grounded; and
• 8 CRJ700s awaiting conversion to CRJ550s.
Firm Order and Option Aircraft. As of December 31, 2023, United had firm commitments to purchase aircraft from Boeing and Airbus presented in the table below:
Contractual Aircraft DeliveriesExpected Aircraft Deliveries (b)
Aircraft TypeNumber of Firm
 Commitments (a)
20242025After 202520242025After 2025
787150 18 124 18 125 
737 MAX 843 43 — — 37 — 
737 MAX 934 34 — — 19 15 — 
737 MAX 10277 80 71 126 — (c)(c)
A321neo126 26 38 62 25 24 77 
A321XLR50 — 42 — 49 
A35045 — — 45 — — 45 
(a) United also has options and purchase rights for additional aircraft.
(b) Expected aircraft deliveries reflect adjustments communicated by Boeing and Airbus or estimated by United.
(c) Due to the delay in the certification of the 737 MAX 10 aircraft, we are unable to accurately forecast the expected delivery period.
The aircraft listed in the table above are scheduled for delivery through 2033. The amount and timing of the Company's future capital commitments could change to the extent that: (i) the Company and the aircraft manufacturers, with whom the Company has existing orders for new aircraft, agree to modify the contracts governing those orders; (ii) rights are exercised pursuant to the relevant agreements to cancel deliveries or modify the timing of deliveries; or (iii) the aircraft manufacturers are unable to deliver in accordance with the terms of those orders.
See Note 12 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Facilities. United leases gates, hangar sites, terminal buildings and other airport facilities in the municipalities it serves. United has major terminal facility leases at SFO, IAD, ORD, LAX, DEN, EWR, IAH and GUM with expiration dates ranging from 2024 through 2053. Substantially all of these facilities are leased on a net-rental basis, resulting in the Company having financial responsibility for maintenance, insurance and other facility-related expenses and services.
United also maintains administrative, catering, cargo, training, maintenance and other facilities to support its operations in the cities it serves. In addition, United has multiple leases, which expire from 2029 through 2033, for its principal executive office and operations center in downtown Chicago and administrative offices in downtown Houston.
ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.
The Company is involved, both as a plaintiff and a defendant, in various legal proceedings, including, without limitation, litigation, arbitration and other claims, and investigations, inspections, subpoenas, audits, inquiries and similar actions involving its passengers, customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders, as well as government agencies, among others, arising in the ordinary course of business and that have not been fully resolved. Legal proceedings, in general, and securities, class action and multi-district litigation, in particular, can be expensive and disruptive. Some of these suits may purport or may be determined to be class actions and/or involve parties seeking large and/or indeterminate amounts, including punitive or exemplary damages, and may remain unresolved for several years. Additionally, from time to time, the Company becomes aware of potential non-compliance with applicable environmental regulations, which have either been identified by the Company (through internal compliance programs such as its environmental compliance audits) or through notice from a governmental entity. In some instances, these matters could potentially become the subject of an administrative or judicial proceeding and could potentially involve monetary sanctions.
Management believes, after considering a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the information currently available, the views of legal counsel, the nature of contingencies to which the Company is subject and prior experience, that its defenses and assertions in pending legal proceedings have merit and, except as otherwise specifically noted below, the ultimate disposition of any pending matter will not materially affect the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows. However, the ultimate resolutions of the Company's legal proceedings and other contingencies are inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties. There can be no assurance that there will not be an increase in the scope
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of one or more of these pending matters or any other or future lawsuits, claims, government investigations or other legal proceedings will not be material to the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows for a particular period. As such, the Company's financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected in any particular period by the unfavorable resolution of one or more of these matters.
Antitrust Litigation
On June 30, 2015, UAL received a Civil Investigative Demand ("CID") from the Antitrust Division of the DOJ seeking documents and information from the Company in connection with a DOJ investigation related to statements and decisions about airline capacity. The Company has completed its response to the CID. The Company is not able to predict what action, if any, might be taken in the future by the DOJ or other governmental authorities as a result of the investigation. Beginning on July 1, 2015, subsequent to the announcement of the CID, UAL and United were named as defendants in multiple class action lawsuits that asserted claims under the Sherman Antitrust Act, which have been consolidated in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaints generally allege collusion among U.S. airlines on capacity impacting airfares and seek treble damages. The Company is vigorously defending against the class action lawsuits.

ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES.
Not applicable.
PART II
ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES.
Market Information for Common Stock
UAL's common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market ("Nasdaq") under the symbol "UAL."
Holders of Common Stock
As of February 22, 2024, there were 5,695 holders of record of UAL common stock.
The number of record holders is based upon the actual number of holders registered on our books at such date based on information provided by Computershare Investor Services, our transfer agent, and does not include holders of shares in "street name" or other holders identified in security position listings maintained by depository trust companies.
Dividend Policy
There were no cash dividend payments during the year ended December 31, 2023 and we do not expect to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Future decisions to pay cash dividends continue to be at the discretion of the Board and will be dependent on our profitability expectations, net income, operating performance, financial condition, capital expenditure requirements and other factors that the Board considers relevant.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
In 2020, the Company's Board of Directors terminated the Company's share repurchase program. As such, the Company did not make any purchases of its common stock during the three months ended December 31, 2023.
Recent Sale of Unregistered Securities and Use of Proceeds
The Company did not sell any securities that were not registered under the Securities Act during the period covered by this report that have not been previously disclosed on a Form 10-Q or Form 8-K.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return during the period from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2023 of UAL's common stock to the Standard and Poor's 500 Index ("SPX") and the NYSE Arca Airline Index ("XAL"). The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2018 in our common stock and in each of the foregoing indices and assumes that all dividends were reinvested.

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Performance Chart YE2023.jpg
Note: The stock price performance shown in the graph above should not be considered indicative of potential future stock price performance. The foregoing performance graph is being furnished as part of this report solely in accordance with the requirement under Rule 14a-3(b)(9) to furnish our stockholders with such information, and therefore, shall not be deemed to be filed or incorporated by reference into any filings by the Company under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.
ITEM 6.    [RESERVED]        

ITEM 7.    MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS.
Management's discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is provided as a supplement to and should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Form 10-K and the description of our business and reportable segments in Part I, Item 1. Business of this Form 10-K to enhance the understanding of our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
This section generally discusses 2023 and 2022 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2023 and 2022. Discussions of 2021 items and year-to-year comparisons between 2022 and 2021 are not included in this Form 10-K and can be found in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in Part II, Item 7 of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022 filed with the SEC on February 16, 2023 (the "2022 Annual Report").
Executive Summary
Overview
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "UAL" or the "Company") is a holding company and its wholly-owned subsidiary is United Airlines, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "United").
As UAL consolidates United for financial statement purposes, disclosures that relate to activities of United also apply to UAL, unless otherwise noted. United's operating revenues and operating expenses comprise nearly 100% of UAL's revenues and operating expenses. In addition, United comprises approximately the entire balance of UAL's assets, liabilities and operating cash flows. When appropriate, UAL and United are named specifically for their individual contractual obligations and related
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disclosures and any significant differences between the operations and results of UAL and United are separately disclosed and explained. We sometimes use the words "we," "our," "us," and the "Company" in this report for disclosures that relate to all of UAL and United.
Our current expectations described below are forward-looking statements and our actual results and timing may vary materially based on various factors that include, but are not limited to, those discussed below under "Strategy," "Economic and Market Factors," "Governmental Actions," "Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors, of this Form 10-K. The results presented in this report are not necessarily indicative of future operating results.
Strategy
Our shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." We have the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Our United Next plan is our fundamental strategic evolution for driving future growth that we believe will have a transformational effect on the customer experience and earnings power of our business. As part of our United Next plan, in September 2023, United exercised options to purchase 50 Boeing 787-9 aircraft scheduled for delivery between 2028 and 2031 and was granted options to purchase up to an additional 50 Boeing 787 aircraft. In addition, United exercised purchase rights to purchase 60 A321neo aircraft scheduled for delivery between 2028 and 2030 and was granted purchase rights to purchase up to an additional 40 A321neo aircraft. We now expect to take delivery of over 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2033.
Our groundbreaking United Next strategy is expected to increase United's average gauge in North America, to increase the total number of available seats per departure and to significantly lower carbon emissions per seat. United is in the process of retrofitting its mainline, narrow-body planes with its signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat, larger overhead bins for every passenger's carry-on bag and the industry's fastest available in-flight Wi-Fi, as well as a bright look-and-feel with LED lighting. The carrier's international widebodies will feature the United Polaris® business class seat as well as United Premium Plus® seating. The Company plans to replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft, which we expect will lead to fuel efficiency benefits compared to older planes, including an expected 17-25% lower carbon emissions per seat compared to older planes. We believe that United Next will allow us to differentiate our network and segment our products with a greater premium offering while also maintaining fare competitiveness with low-cost carriers.
The Company will be squarely focused on delivering on four strategic pillars:
United Next: Along with the items mentioned above, additional elements of the United Next plan include hiring over 50,000 new employees, expanding our leading global network to underserved countries and making significant technology changes designed to improve the customer experience and drive operational efficiency.
Operational excellence: The most important factor for customer satisfaction is on-time flights. We face some unique challenges in this respect because we operate hubs in the most congested and constrained airports in the country. That backdrop means that United needs to be a leader at using technology to overcome these challenges. We believe that we have been working strategically to overcome operational challenges, but we continue to innovate in order to make advancements in this area.
Pre-tax margin: We believe that best-in-class margin performance will enable us to provide the cash flow needed to support our planned investments in growth.
Customer service: We believe that excellent customer service is part of de-commoditizing air travel. Our people are our greatest asset and they are by far the most important part of our product. Aspects of the customer experience such as a great route network, new aircraft, and great Wi-Fi are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for a great airline brand. Ultimately our people provide customers with the service they expect.
Economic and Market Factors
The airline industry is highly competitive, marked by significant competition with respect to routes, fares, schedules (both timing and frequency), services, products, customer service and frequent flyer programs. We, like other companies in our industry, have been subject to these and other industry-specific competitive dynamics. In addition, our operations, supply chain, partners and suppliers have been subject to various global macroeconomic factors. We expect to continue to remain vulnerable to a number of industry-specific and global macroeconomic factors that may cause our actual results of operations to differ from our historical results of operations or current expectations. The economic and market factors and trends that we currently
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believe are or will be most impactful to our results of operations and financial condition include the following: the execution risks associated with our United Next plan, especially relating to the growth in the scale of our operations as a result of the plan; the impact on the Company of significant operational challenges by third parties on which we rely; rising inflationary pressures; labor market and supply chain constraints and related costs affecting us and our partners; volatile fuel prices; aircraft delivery delays; increasing maintenance expenses; high interest rates; and changes in general economic conditions in the markets in which the Company operates, including an economic downturn leading to a decrease in demand for air travel or fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates that may impact international travel demand. We continue to monitor the potential favorable or unfavorable impacts of these and other factors on our business, operations, financial condition, future results of operations, liquidity and financial flexibility, which are dependent on future developments, including as a result of those factors discussed in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors, of this Form 10-K. Our future results of operations may be subject to volatility and our growth plans may be delayed, particularly in the short term, due to the impact of the above factors and trends.
Governmental Actions
We operate in complex, highly regulated environments in the U.S., the European Union, the United Kingdom and other regions around the world. Compliance with laws, regulations, administrative practices and other restrictions or legal requirements in the countries in which we do business is onerous and expensive. In addition, changes to existing legal requirements or the implementation of new legal requirements and any failure to comply with such legal requirements could negatively impact our business, operations, financial condition, future results of operations, liquidity and financial flexibility by increasing the Company's costs, limiting the Company's ability to offer a product, service or feature to customers, impacting customer demand for the Company's products and services and requiring changes to the Company's supply chain and its business. Legal requirements that we currently believe are or will be most impactful to our results of operations and financial condition include the following: the closure of our flying airspace and termination of other operations due to regional conflicts, including the suspension of our overflying in Russian airspace as a result of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict and to Tel Aviv as a result of the Israeli-Hamas military conflict, as well as any escalation of the broader economic consequences of these conflicts beyond their current scope; delays in aircraft certification (especially relating to the 737 MAX 10 aircraft); increased FAA oversight of the aircraft production process; and any legal requirement that would result in a reshaping of the benefits that we provide to our consumers through the co-branded credit cards issued by our partner. Changes in existing applicable legal requirements or new applicable legal requirements as well as the related interpretations and enforcement practices regarding them, create uncertainty about how such laws and regulations will be understood and applied. As a result, the impact of changing and new legal requirements generally cannot be reasonably predicted and those requirements may ultimately require extensive system and operational changes, be difficult to implement, increase our operating costs and require significant capital expenditures.
Results of Operations
Select financial data and operating statistics are provided in the tables below:
(in millions)202320222021
Operating revenue$53,717 $44,955 $24,634 
Operating expense49,506 42,618 25,656 
Operating income (loss)4,211 2,337 (1,022)
Nonoperating expense, net(824)(1,347)(1,535)
Income (loss) before income taxes3,387 990 (2,557)
Income tax expense (benefit)769 253 (593)
Net income (loss)$2,618 $737 $(1,964)

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202320222021
Passengers (thousands) (a)164,927144,300104,082
Revenue passenger miles ("RPMs") (millions) (b)244,435206,791128,979
Available seat miles ("ASMs") (millions) (c)
291,333247,858178,684
Cargo revenue ton miles (millions) (d)3,1593,0413,285
Passenger load factor (e)83.9 %83.4 %72.2 %
Passenger revenue per available seat mile ("PRASM") (cents)16.8416.1511.30
Total revenue per available seat mile ("TRASM") (cents)18.4418.1413.79
Average yield per revenue passenger mile ("Yield") (cents) (f)20.0719.3615.66
Cost per available seat mile ("CASM") (cents)
16.9917.1914.36
Average stage length (miles) (g)1,4791,4371,315
Employee headcount, as of December 31103,30092,80084,100
(a)The number of revenue passengers measured by each flight segment flown.
(b)The number of scheduled miles flown by revenue passengers.
(c)The number of seats available for passengers multiplied by the number of scheduled miles those seats are flown.
(d)The number of cargo revenue tons transported multiplied by the number of miles flown.
(e)RPMs divided by ASMs.
(f)The average passenger revenue received for each revenue passenger mile flown.
(g)Average stage length equals the average distance a flight travels weighted for size of aircraft.
Operating Revenue. The table below illustrates the year-over-year percentage change in the Company's operating revenues for the years ended December 31 (in millions, except percentage changes):
20232022Increase (Decrease)% Change
Passenger revenue$49,046 $40,032 $9,014 22.5 
Cargo1,495 2,171 (676)(31.1)
Other operating revenue3,176 2,752 424 15.4 
Total operating revenue$53,717 $44,955 $8,762 19.5 
The table below presents passenger revenue and select operating data of the Company, broken out by geographic region, expressed as year-over-year changes:
Increase (decrease) from 2022:
DomesticAtlanticPacific
Latin
Total
Passenger revenue (in millions)$3,641 $2,225 $2,525 $623 $9,014 
Passenger revenue14.0 %28.0 %118.8 %15.4 %22.5 %
Average fare per passenger0.9 %8.9 %6.7 %7.4 %7.2 %
Yield3.2 %9.7 %(1.9)%6.2 %3.7 %
PRASM2.7 %9.5 %12.8 %9.7 %4.3 %
Passengers13.0 %17.6 %105.1 %7.4 %14.3 %
RPMs10.5 %16.7 %123.1 %8.6 %18.2 %
ASMs11.0 %16.9 %94.0 %5.2 %17.5 %
Passenger load factor (points)(0.4)(0.1)10.2 2.8 0.5 
Passenger revenue increased $9.0 billion, or 22.5%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to a 17.5% increase in capacity, strength in yield, and a 0.5 point increase in passenger load factor.
Cargo revenue decreased $676 million, or 31.1%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to lower yields as a result of increased market capacity and rate pressures.
Other operating revenue increased $424 million, or 15.4%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to an increase in mileage revenue from non-airline partners, including credit card spending and new credit card member acquisitions with the co-branded credit card partner, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as well as increases in the purchases of United Club memberships and one-time lounge passes as compared to the year-ago period.
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Operating Expense. The table below includes data related to the Company's operating expense for the years ended December 31 (in millions, except percentage changes):
20232022Increase (Decrease)% Change (a)
Salaries and related costs$14,787 $11,466 $3,321 29.0 
Aircraft fuel12,651 13,113 (462)(3.5)
Landing fees and other rent3,076 2,576 500 19.4 
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs2,736 2,153 583 27.1 
Depreciation and amortization2,671 2,456 215 8.8 
Regional capacity purchase2,400 2,299 101 4.4 
Distribution expenses1,977 1,535 442 28.8 
Aircraft rent197 252 (55)(21.8)
Special charges949 140 809 NM
Other operating expenses8,062 6,628 1,434 21.6 
Total operating expenses$49,506 $42,618 $6,888 16.2 
(a) NM - Greater than 100% change or otherwise not meaningful.
Salaries and related costs increased $3.3 billion, or 29.0%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to an approximately 11% increase in headcount from increased flight activity, pay rate increases related to a new collective bargaining agreement with employees represented by ALPA, annual wage rate increases across employee groups and an increase of $548 million in profit sharing expense due to both an increase in pre-tax income and a change in the profit sharing formula as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement with employees represented by ALPA.
Aircraft fuel expense decreased $462 million, or 3.5%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to a lower average price per gallon of fuel, partially offset by increased consumption from higher flight activity. The table below presents the significant changes in aircraft fuel cost per gallon for the years ended December 31 (in millions, except percentage changes and per gallon data):
20232022% Change
Fuel expense$12,651 $13,113 (3.5)
Total fuel consumption (gallons)4,205 3,608 16.5 
Average price per gallon$3.01 $3.63 (17.1)
Landing fees and other rent increased $500 million, or 19.4%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to increased rates and increased flight activity driving higher landed weight volume and a higher number of enplaned passengers as well as expansion in airport rental space at certain hubs.
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs increased $583 million, or 27.1%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to increased flight activity and increased volumes of both engine overhauls and airframe heavy maintenance checks.
Depreciation expense increased $215 million, or 8.8%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to new aircraft inducted into service.
Regional capacity purchase costs increased $101 million, or 4.4%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, despite an approximately 13% reduction in regional capacity, primarily due to rate increases under various capacity purchase agreements with regional carriers.
Distribution expenses increased $442 million, or 28.8%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to higher credit card fees, travel agency commissions and global distribution fees driven by the overall increase in passenger revenue. Also, starting in the fourth quarter of 2023, the Company reclassified certain commissions totaling $80 million from contra-revenue to distribution expense as an immaterial reclassification correction.
The table below presents special charges recorded by the Company during the years ended December 31 (in millions):
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20232022
Labor contract ratification bonuses$814 $— 
(Gains) losses on sale of assets and other special charges135 140 
Total special charges$949 $140 
See Note 13 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Other operating expenses increased $1.4 billion, or 21.6%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily as a direct result of the increase in flight activity and the impacts of inflationary pressures. Other operating expenses include expenditures related to ground handling, passenger services, food and beverage offerings, navigation fees, personnel-related costs and information technology projects and services.
Nonoperating Income (Expense). The following table illustrates the year-over-year dollar and percentage changes in the Company's nonoperating income (expense) for the years ended December 31 (in millions, except percentage changes):
20232022Increase (Decrease)% Change
Interest expense$(1,956)$(1,778)$178 10.0 
Interest income827 298 529 NM
Interest capitalized182 105 77 73.3 
Unrealized gains on investments, net27 20 35.0 
Miscellaneous, net 96 88 NM
Total nonoperating expense, net$(824)$(1,347)$(523)(38.8)
Interest expense increased $178 million, or 10.0%, in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to higher interest rates on variable rate debt and new debt issuances in the current period, partially offset by reduced interest expense on the prepayment of $1.0 billion of the outstanding principal amount under a 2021 term loan facility in the second quarter of 2023.
Interest income increased $529 million in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to higher interest rates on the Company's cash balances and U.S. government and agency notes. See Note 8 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Interest capitalized increased $77 million in 2023 as compared to 2022, primarily due to increased capitalization associated with aircraft purchases and increased interest rates.
Unrealized gains on investments, net was $27 million in 2023 as compared to $20 million in 2022, primarily due to the change in the market value of the Company's investments in equity securities. See Notes 8 and 13 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Miscellaneous, net changed by $88 million in 2023 as compared to the year-ago period, primarily due to lower foreign exchange losses and lower net cost from the pensions and postretirement benefit plans.
Income Taxes. See Note 6 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for information related to income taxes.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2023, the Company had $14.4 billion in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as compared to approximately $16.4 billion as of December 31, 2022. We believe that our existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, together with cash generated from operations, will be sufficient to satisfy our anticipated liquidity needs for the next twelve months and we expect to meet our long-term liquidity needs with our anticipated access to the capital markets and projected cash from operations. We regularly assess our anticipated working capital needs, debt and leverage levels, debt maturities, capital expenditure requirements (including in connection with our capital commitments for our firm order aircraft) and future investments or acquisitions in order to maximize shareholder return, efficiently finance our ongoing operations and maintain flexibility for future strategic transactions. We also regularly evaluate our liquidity and capital structure to ensure financial risks, adequate liquidity access and cost of capital are efficiently managed.
The Revolving Credit and Guaranty Agreement, under the Term Loan Credit and Guaranty Agreement, provides revolving loan commitments of up to $1.75 billion until April 21, 2025, subject to certain customary conditions. No borrowings were outstanding under this facility at December 31, 2023. On February 15, 2024, the Company amended its 2021 revolving credit
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facility to increase its borrowing capacity by $1.115 billion. Also, on February 22, 2024, the Company refinanced its 2021 term loans by paying down $1.37 billion of its outstanding balance and lowering the margin applied to these term loans by 1.00%. See Note 9 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information on these financing transactions.
We have a significant amount of fixed obligations, including debt, leases of aircraft, airport and other facilities, and pension funding obligations. As of December 31, 2023, the Company had approximately $36.7 billion of debt, finance lease, operating lease and other financial liabilities, including $4.8 billion that will become due in the next 12 months. In addition, we have substantial noncancelable commitments for capital expenditures, including the acquisition of certain new aircraft and related spare engines. Our debt agreements contain customary terms and conditions as well as various affirmative, negative and financial covenants that, among other things, restrict the ability of the Company and its subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness and pay dividends or repurchase stock. As of December 31, 2023, UAL and United were in compliance with their respective debt covenants. As of December 31, 2023, a substantial portion of the Company's assets, principally aircraft and certain related assets, its loyalty program, route authorities and airport slots, was pledged under various loan and other agreements. See Note 9 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information on aircraft financing and other debt instruments.
For 2024, the Company expects approximately $8 billion of adjusted capital expenditures. Adjusted capital expenditures is a financial measure not calculated in accordance of generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"). It is calculated as capital expenditures, net of flight equipment purchase deposit returns, plus property and equipment acquired through the issuance of debt, finance leases, and other financial liabilities. We are not providing a target for or a reconciliation to capital expenditures, net of flight equipment purchase deposit returns, the most directly comparable GAAP measure, because we are not able to predict non-cash capital expenditures without unreasonable efforts, and therefore we also are not able to determine the probable significance of such items. We believe that adjusting capital expenditures for assets acquired through the issuance of debt, finance leases and other financial liabilities is useful to investors in order to appropriately reflect the total amounts spent on capital expenditures. The Company's estimate for aircraft expenditures reflects its current assumptions regarding delayed aircraft deliveries. See Note 12 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information on commitments, including aircraft expenditures reflecting contractual delivery dates without adjustment for expected delays. The Company has backstop financing commitments available from certain of its aircraft manufacturers for a limited number of its future aircraft deliveries, subject to certain customary conditions.
The following table summarizes our cash flow for the years ended December 31 (in millions):
202320222021
Total cash provided by (used in):
Operating activities$6,911 $6,066 $2,067 
Investing activities(6,106)(13,829)(1,672)
Financing activities(1,892)(3,349)6,396 
Net increase (decrease) in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash$(1,087)$(11,112)$6,791 
See the Statements of Consolidated Cash Flows included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Operating Activities. Cash flows provided by operating activities for 2023 were $0.8 billion higher than 2022 primarily due to an approximately $1.9 billion increase in operating income as improvements in the demand for air travel continued partially offset by a decrease in various working capital items.
Investing Activities. Cash flows used in investing activities decreased $7.7 billion in 2023 as compared to the year-ago period mainly related to approximately $10.2 billion due to lower purchase and higher sales activity in short-term and other investments, partially offset by a $2.4 billion increase in capital expenditures. Capital expenditures were primarily attributable to the purchase of aircraft, aircraft improvements and advance deposits for future aircraft purchases.
Financing Activities. Significant financing events in 2023 were as follows:
Debt, Finance Lease and Other Financial Liability Principal Payments. During 2023, the Company made $4.2 billion of principal payments on debt, finance leases, and other financial liabilities. The payments in 2023 included a prepayment of $1.0 billion of the outstanding principal amount under a 2021 term loan facility.
Debt Issuances. In 2023, the Company and Wilmington Trust, National Association, as subordination agent and pass through trustee (the "Trustee") under a certain pass through trust newly formed by the Company, entered into the Note Purchase Agreement, dated as of June 20, 2023 (the "Note Purchase Agreement"). The Note Purchase Agreement provides for the
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issuance by the Company of equipment notes (the "Equipment Notes") in the aggregate principal amount of $1.3 billion to finance 39 Boeing aircraft delivered new to the Company from August 2022 to May 2023. Pursuant to the Note Purchase Agreement, the Trustee purchased Equipment Notes issued under a trust indenture and mortgage (each, an "Indenture" and, collectively, the "Indentures") with respect to each aircraft entered into by the Company and Wilmington Trust, National Association, as mortgagee. Each Indenture provides for the issuance of Equipment Notes in a single series, Series A, bearing interest at the rate of 5.80% per annum. The Equipment Notes were purchased by the Trustee, using the proceeds from the sale of Pass Through Certificates, Series 2023-1A, issued by a pass through trust newly-formed by the Company to facilitate the financing of the aircraft. The interest on the Equipment Notes is payable semi-annually on each January 15 and July 15, beginning on January 15, 2024. The principal payments on the Equipment Notes are scheduled on January 15 and July 15 of each year, beginning on July 15, 2024. The final payments on the Equipment Notes will be due on January 15, 2036.
Also, during 2023, United borrowed $1.1 billion for aircraft financings.
See Note 9 and Note 10 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information on aircraft financing.
Significant financing events in 2022 were as follows:
Debt, Finance Lease and Other Financial Liability Principal Payments. During 2022, the Company made $4.0 billion of principal payments on debt, finance leases, and other financial liabilities.
Debt Issuances. During 2022, United borrowed $0.8 billion for aircraft financings.
For additional information regarding these Liquidity and Capital Resource matters, see Notes 9, 10 and 12 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report. For information regarding non-cash investing and financing activities, see the Company's statements of consolidated cash flows. For a discussion of the Company's sources and uses of cash in 2022 as compared to 2021, see "Liquidity and Capital Resources" in Part II, Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in the 2022 Annual Report.
Credit Ratings. As of the filing date of this report, UAL and United had the following corporate credit ratings:
S&PMoody'sFitch
UALBB-Ba2BB-
UnitedBB-*BB-
*The credit agency does not issue corporate credit ratings for subsidiary entities.
These credit ratings are below investment grade levels; however, the Company has been able to secure financing with investment grade credit ratings for certain EETCs, term loans and secured bond financings. Downgrades from these rating levels, among other things, could restrict the availability, or increase the cost, of future financing for the Company as well as affect the fair market value of existing debt. A rating reflects only the view of a rating agency and is not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities. Ratings can be revised upward or downward at any time by a rating agency if such rating agency decides that circumstances warrant such a change.
Other Liquidity Matters
Below is a summary of additional liquidity matters. See the indicated notes to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional details related to these and other matters affecting our liquidity and commitments.
Pension and other postretirement plansNote 7
Long-term debt and debt covenantsNote 9
Leases and capacity purchase agreementsNote 10
Commitments and contingenciesNote 12
The Company's business is capital intensive, requiring significant amounts of capital to fund the acquisition of assets, particularly aircraft. In the past, the Company has funded the acquisition of aircraft with cash, by using EETC financing, by entering into finance or operating leases, or through other financings. The Company also often enters into long-term lease commitments with airports to ensure access to terminal, cargo, maintenance and other required facilities.
The table below provides a summary of the Company's current and long-term material cash requirements as of December 31, 2023 (in billions):
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20242025202620272028After 2028
Long-term debt (a)$4.0 $3.5 $5.2 $2.5 $5.3 $8.9 
Finance leases—principal portion0.2 0.1 — — — —