United Airlines has reported a $2.1 billion loss for the first quarter, the biggest for the carrier since the recession of 2008.
The news comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive travel demand down to the lowest level in decades.
United flew less than 200,000 people in the first two weeks of April, a 97 per cent drop from the more than six million customers during the same period of 2019.
Last week United Airlines said it had cut its flight schedule in May by 90 per cent and expected similar cuts for June due to the pandemic
The Chicago-based airline added it has applied for up to $4.5 billion in government loans on top of about $5 billion in federal payroll grants and loans it also expects to receive to weather the crisis.
“We thank Congress and the administration for quickly passing legislation to protect the paycheques of tens of thousands of United Airlines employees and look forward to completing the final agreements with the treasury department in the next few days,” said United Airlines spokesperson, Frank Benenati.
“These funds will cover a portion of our pay and benefits costs through September 30th, and we are thankful for the support provided to our employees and their families by the CARES act.”
United is the first United State-based airline to detail the financial impact of the virus on its results in the first three months of the year.
The disease and harsh measures to stop it from spreading have ravaged air travel demand and prompted carriers to slash most of their flights.
United said revenue fell 17 per cent in the first quarter from a year ago - to $8 billion.
On an adjusted basis, United said it had a roughly $1 billion loss in the quarter, excluding special charges.
The carrier earlier said it would sell and lease back 22 planes to Bank of China Aviation, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal comprises six Boeing 787-9 aircraft and 16 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft from United Airlines, according to a Bank of China Aviation statement filed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Sunday.
According to the terms of the transaction, the planes will be leased back to United Airlines on long-term agreements.
The deal is expected to close some time this year.
Singapore-based BOC Aviation is a global aircraft operating leasing company with a fleet of over 500 aircraft.