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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, 2020
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                      to               
 https://cdn.kscope.io/62b74b78d6c28032cdfa9b77f1bf1b3e-ual-20201231_g1.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 RightsThe 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.
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.YesNo
United Airlines, Inc.  YesNo
The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of United Airlines Holdings, Inc. was $10.0 billion as of June 30, 2020 based on the closing sale price of $34.61 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 24, 2021.
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.318,476,280shares 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 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.


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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, 2020
 
  Page
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.


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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 principal, 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 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 Annual Report on 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 such material is electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. 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 Newark Liberty International Airport ("Newark"), Chicago O'Hare International Airport ("Chicago O'Hare"), Denver International Airport ("Denver"), George Bush Intercontinental Airport ("Houston Bush"), Los Angeles International Airport ("LAX"), A.B. Won Pat International Airport ("Guam"), San Francisco International Airport ("SFO") and Washington Dulles International Airport ("Washington Dulles").
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.
The Company began experiencing a significant decline in passenger demand related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during the first quarter of 2020. The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the Company's longer-term operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including those outside our control related to the efficacy and speed of vaccination programs in curbing the spread of the virus, the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus which may be resistant to currently approved vaccines, passenger testing requirements, mask mandates or other restrictions on travel, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with certainty. In response to decreased demand, the Company cut, relative to 2019 capacity, approximately 57% of its scheduled capacity for 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the Company expects scheduled capacity to be down at least 51% versus the first quarter of 2019. The Company plans to continue to proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand and expects demand to remain suppressed, relative to 2019 levels, until vaccines for COVID-19 are widely distributed and are effective in curbing
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the spread of the virus. In addition, the Company does not currently expect the recovery from COVID-19 to follow a linear path. As such, the Company's actual flown capacity may differ materially from its currently scheduled capacity.
Regional. 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. Champlain Enterprises, LLC d/b/a CommutAir ("CommutAir"), Republic Airline Inc. ("Republic"), GoJet Airlines LLC ("GoJet"), Mesa Airlines, Inc. ("Mesa"), SkyWest Airlines, Inc. ("SkyWest"), and Air Wisconsin Airlines LLC ("Air Wisconsin") 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. The significant decline in demand for air travel services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has also materially impacted demand for regional carrier services and, as a result, the Company's utilization of its regional network is significantly reduced and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future. As a result, we may face claims that we failed to perform certain obligations under our agreements with our regional carriers and may incur damages. Additionally, in July 2020, the Company announced its plans to consolidate its Embraer 145 ("E145") operations into a single regional partner, CommutAir. As a result, the Company terminated its CPA with ExpressJet Airlines, LLC, a domestic regional airline ("ExpressJet"). ExpressJet flew its last commercial flight, on behalf of United, on September 30, 2020. Additionally, United transferred all of its E145 operations over to CommutAir as United's sole regional partner for this aircraft type. We expect the disruption to services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to adversely affect our regional carriers, some of which may declare bankruptcy or otherwise cease to operate.
Alliances. United is a member of Star Alliance, a global integrated airline network and the largest and most comprehensive airline alliance in the world. Despite the global challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Star Alliance carriers continued to serve nearly 1,000 airports in 154 countries with close to 10,000 daily departures as of January 1, 2021. 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 ("Copa"), 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, Star Alliance includes Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines and Thailand-based Thai Smile Airways, a subsidiary of THAI Airways International, as connecting partners.
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 marketing alliance agreements with other air carriers, including Aeromar, Aer Lingus, Air Dolomiti, Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A. ("Azul"), Boutique Air, Cape Air, Edelweiss, Eurowings, Hawaiian Airlines, Olympic Air, Silver Airways 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 Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, 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 Avianca and Copa, which, upon regulatory approval, will cover routes between the United States and Central and South America, excluding Brazil. 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 also participates in 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.
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
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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 2020, approximately 1.9 million MileagePlus flight awards were used on United and United Express. These awards represented 6.2% of United's total revenue passenger miles. Total miles redeemed for flights on United and United Express, including class-of-service upgrades, represented approximately 80% of the total miles redeemed. In addition, excluding miles redeemed for flights on United and United Express, MileagePlus members redeemed miles for approximately 0.8 million other awards. These awards include United Club memberships, car and hotel awards, merchandise and flights on other air carriers. Redemptions in 2020 were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the impact of COVID-19, the Company made changes to its MileagePlus® Premier® program that will make it easier to earn status in 2021 for the 2022 program year. United will again have reduced Premier Qualifying Points ("PQP") and Premier Qualifying Flights ("PQF") thresholds in 2021 and will have innovative promotions that help members earn status more quickly. Early in 2021, United deposited 25% of the PQP-only requirements in Premier members' accounts based on their 2021 Premier status level. Premier members will earn double the PQP on each of the first three PQP-eligible trips completed January 1 through March 31, 2021 (up to 1,500 PQP per trip), helping their flights go further toward reaching status.
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
20202,004 $3,153 $1.57 15 %
20194,292 $8,953 $2.09 23 %
20184,137 $9,307 $2.25 24 %
Our operational and financial results can be significantly impacted by changes in the price and availability of aircraft fuel. To provide adequate supplies of fuel, the Company routinely enters into purchase contracts that are customarily indexed to market prices for aircraft fuel, and the Company generally has some ability to cover short-term fuel supply and infrastructure disruptions at certain major demand locations. The price of aircraft fuel has fluctuated substantially in the past several years. The Company's current strategy is to not enter into transactions to hedge its fuel consumption, although the Company regularly reviews its strategy based on market conditions and other factors.
Third-Party Business. United generates third-party business revenue that includes maintenance services, catering, frequent flyer award non-travel redemptions and ground handling. Third-party business revenue is recorded in Other operating revenue. Expenses associated with third-party business, except non-travel redemptions, are recorded in Other operating expenses. Non-travel redemptions expenses are recorded to Other operating revenue.
Air Cargo. United provides freight and mail services (air cargo). The majority of cargo services are provided to commercial businesses, freight forwarder firms and the United States Postal Service. Through our global network, our cargo operations are able to connect the world's major freight gateways. We generate cargo revenues in domestic and international markets through the use of cargo space on regularly scheduled passenger aircraft, and starting in 2020, cargo-only flights.
Distribution Channels. The Company's airline seat inventory and fares are distributed through the Company's direct channels, traditional travel agencies and on-line travel agencies. 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.
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Industry Conditions
COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic, together with the measures implemented or recommended by governmental authorities and private organizations in response to the pandemic, has had an adverse impact that has been material to the airline industry. Measures such as "shelter in place" or quarantine requirements, international and domestic travel restrictions or advisories, limitations on public gatherings, social distancing recommendations, remote work arrangements and closures of tourist destinations and attractions, as well as consumer perceptions of the safety, ease and predictability of air travel, have contributed to a precipitous decline in passenger demand and bookings for both business and leisure travel.
The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the Company's longer-term operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including those outside our control related to the efficacy and speed of vaccination programs in curbing the spread of the virus, the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus which may be resistant to currently approved vaccines, passenger testing requirements, mask mandates or other restrictions on travel, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with certainty. Effective August 30, 2020, United permanently eliminated change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also, in December 2020, the Company eliminated change fees on flights from the U.S. to all international destinations and fees on Basic Economy and all other international travel tickets issued by March 31, 2021. In addition, effective January 1, 2021, United began allowing passengers to standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, while MileagePlus Premier members can confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.
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 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. Since we compete in a dynamic marketplace, attempts to generate additional revenue through increased fares often fail.
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, including government-subsidized competitors from certain Middle East countries. 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, above, 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.
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 the future. 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
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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 Railway Labor Act ("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"), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("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. ("Reagan National"), and John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport ("LaGuardia") 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, which encompasses significant aviation tax and policy-related issues. The law includes a range of policy changes related to airline customer service and aviation safety. Implementation of some items continues into the new Administration and, depending on how they are implemented, could impact our operations and costs. U.S. Congressional action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided funding for U.S. airlines, in both grants and loans. The U.S. Congress has imposed limited conditions on airlines accepting funding, including workforce retention and minimum service requirements. With the change in control of the U.S. Congress and a new presidential administration, any future funding or other pandemic relief could include additional requirements that could impact our operations and costs. Additionally, the U.S. Congress may consider legislation related to environmental issues or increases to the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate, which could impact the Company and the airline industry.
Catering Operations. The Company owns and operates catering kitchens at airports in Denver, Cleveland, Newark, Houston, and Honolulu, which prepare ready-to-eat food for United flights. Some of the Company's kitchens also prepare ready-to-eat food for other domestic and international airlines. The Company's onboard food service operations are subject to FDA regulation through its interstate conveyance sanitation regulations, and the Company's catering operations are subject to regulation by the FDA and the USDA, as well as other federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. In particular, the FDA enforces the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act which requires all food manufacturers, including ready-to-eat catering operations, to implement stringent risk-based preventive controls. As a result, the Company's catering and food service operations are periodically subject to inspections and enforcement by regulatory agencies.
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 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
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Company. Certain countries have regulations requiring passenger compensation and/or enforcement penalties from the Company in addition to changes in operating procedures due to canceled and delayed flights.
Airport Access. Historically, access to foreign markets has been tightly controlled through bilateral agreements between the U.S. and each foreign country involved. These agreements regulate the markets served, the number of carriers allowed to serve each market and the frequency of carriers' flights. Since the early 1990s, the U.S. has pursued a policy of "Open Skies" (meaning all U.S.-flag 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 markets. 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 Europe, Asia 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 air traffic control ("ATC") construction work, among other reasons. London Heathrow International Airport, Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport and Tokyo Haneda International Airport are among the most restrictive foreign airports due to slot and capacity limitations.
The Company's ability to serve some foreign markets 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, enhancing or diminishing the value of the Company's existing international route authorities and slot rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused most governments to restrict entry to foreign nationals (with some exceptions) and to impose multiple health management rules which can include COVID-19 testing, quarantine upon arrival, health declarations, and temperature screens, among others. Such requirements may result in reduced demand for travel and cause the Company to suspend service to some foreign markets. Certain foreign governments have granted waivers for limited periods that allow the Company to maintain existing slot rights and route authorizations while not operating at a particular foreign point. The airline industry is advocating for the continuation of such waivers until the operating and demand environment return to normal, but future waivers are not guaranteed.
Environmental Regulation. The airline industry is subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and international environmental requirements, including those regulating emissions to air, water discharges, safe drinking water and the use and management of hazardous substances and wastes.
Climate Change. There is an increasing global regulatory focus on greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions and their potential impacts relating to climate change. An initiative 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. In December 2017, the European Parliament voted to extend exemptions for extra-EU flights until December 2023 in order to align the extension date with the completion of the pilot phase of the International Civil Aviation Organization's ("ICAO") Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation ("CORSIA"). CORSIA, which was adopted in October 2016, is intended to create a single global market-based measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth for international aviation, which can be achieved through airline purchases of eligible carbon offset credits and the use of eligible sustainable fuels. The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted ICAO to include only 2019 emissions (as opposed to the originally planned average of 2019-20 emissions) as the baseline upon which offsetting obligations would be calculated for the pilot phase (2021-23) of the scheme; the applicable baseline for the subsequent phases of the scheme, however, is still uncertain. The European Parliament is expected to assess CORSIA implementation and re-assess the applicability of EU ETS to international aviation in 2024, at which point the EU could require all extra- and intra-EU flights to participate in EU ETS. Certain CORSIA program aspects could potentially be affected by the results of the pilot phase of the program, and thus the impact of CORSIA cannot be fully predicted. However, CORSIA is expected to increase operating costs for the Company, depending on a number of factors, including the number of its flights that are subject to CORSIA, the fuel efficiency of the Company's fleet, the Company's purchase and use of CORSIA-eligible sustainable fuels, aviation sector growth, the price of CORSIA-eligible offsets and the applicable baseline year(s) applied to future phases of the program. In 2017, ICAO also adopted a carbon dioxide ("CO2") emission standard for aircraft. 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. While United endeavors to comply with all applicable environmental regulations, United's Eco-Skies commitment to becoming a more environmentally sustainable company extends beyond seeking to comply with regulatory requirements.
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We have made a series of tangible commitments and actions to help reduce our carbon emission footprint, including the following:
In 2015, we invested $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a sustainable aviation fuel ("SAF") producer that converts trash to low-carbon jet fuel.
In 2016, we became the first airline globally to use SAF in regular operations on a continuous basis and, as of December 31, 2020, based on publicly announced commitments, have purchased more SAF than any other U.S. commercial airline.
In 2018, we became the first U.S. airline to establish a climate goal of reducing our emissions 50% by 2050 versus our 2005 baseline.
In 2020:
We pledged to become 100% green by reducing our GHG emissions by 100% by 2050—without relying on voluntary carbon offsets.
We became the first airline to announce a commitment to invest in Direct Air Capture technology through 1PointFive, a joint venture between Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen Capital.
The Carbon Disclosure Project ("CDP") named United as the only airline globally to its climate 'A List' for the Company's actions to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy, marking the seventh consecutive year that United had the highest CDP score among U.S. airlines.
In the first quarter of 2021, United entered into an agreement to work with, and to invest in, air mobility company Archer Aviation Inc. on the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that have the potential for future use as an 'air taxi' in urban markets.
Additional information regarding United's Eco-Skies program and our pledge to become 100% green by reducing GHG emissions by 100% by 2050, can be found on our website at united.com/100green. The information contained on or connected to the Company's website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K and should not be considered part of this or any other report filed with the SEC.
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, 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. The implementation of these requirements is expected to result in restrictions on mobile sources of air pollutants such as cars, trucks and airport ground support equipment in corresponding locations. Various states have passed legislation restricting the use of Class B fire-fighting foam agents that contain intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ("PFAS"), which are expected to require the Company to incur costs to convert existing fixed foam fire suppression systems to accommodate PFAS-free firefighting foam agents. Finally, environmental cleanup laws could require the Company to undertake or subject the Company to liability for investigation and remediation costs at certain owned or leased locations or third-party disposal locations.
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. While we continue to monitor these developments, the precise nature of future requirements and their applicability to the Company are difficult to predict, but the financial impact to the Company and the aviation industry could be significant.
Human Capital
As of December 31, 2020, UAL, including its subsidiaries, had approximately 74,400 employees, not including furloughed employees who were recalled in connection with the Payroll Support Program extension under Subtitle A of Title IV of Division N of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the "PSP Extension Law"). Approximately 84% of the Company's employees were represented by various U.S. labor organizations. The Company believes engaged and empowered employees are important for the success of its mission. The Company's focus areas for employee engagement and retention include, but are not limited to:
Workplace Safety. At United, safety is first in everything we do and is our first core4 service standard (Safe, Caring, Dependable and Efficient). We have implemented policies and training programs, as well as performed self-audits designed to ensure our employees are safe every day. United has onsite clinic locations in certain of its hubs that provide services to active employees including, but not limited to, occupational injury, Company-directed exams, acute care for personal illness, pre-
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employment exams, travel immunizations and OSHA audiometric testing. For all other locations, United has partnered with third-party clinics to provide such services. United has a Drug Abatement organization that has implemented programs aimed at supporting United's goal of maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. Additionally, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company has actively implemented additional safety measures in compliance with CDC guidelines and we actively follow their recommendations.
Talent and Pay. At United, we take great pride in the unique opportunity that we have to create and support the kind of careers that are increasingly hard to find in the 21st century American economy. There are thousands of jobs at United that do not require a four-year college degree and also provide significant schedule flexibility. For example our flight attendants and ramp agents have significant flexibility in their work schedules and, as they gain seniority, have the opportunity to earn up to six-figures in total annual compensation and benefits. There are thousands of additional specialized roles at United, like technicians and pilots, with even higher wage scales. Each of these jobs comes with a full suite of employment benefits including a retirement plan, life insurance, health insurance, free travel and more. These employees also enjoy valuable protections negotiated by U.S. labor organizations.
Culture. Having an engaged and proud work force is important to the success of our business. We undertake a confidential employee survey that provides us with point-in-time insights multiple times a year. We use the employee feedback to better understand the employee experience and assess progress made on achieving our goal of making United the best place to work.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. United is committed to creating a workplace where all employees feel included and empowered to make a measurable difference in our success. United offers policies, programs, benefits and recognition designed to reward and support the success of our diverse workforce. To help advance United's goals for diversity, equity and inclusion, the airline supports seven employee-run business resource groups with over 8,000 participants. Each group — LGBTQ+, Multi-cultural, People with Disabilities, Veterans, Women, Black/African American and Next Generation — helps increase awareness and understanding of cultural issues and opportunities for employees, while nurturing United's diverse talent, enriching the airline's organizational culture and contributing to Company performance. In 2020 and for the fifth consecutive year, United was recognized as a top-scoring company and best place to work for disability inclusion with a perfect score of 100 on the 2020 Disability Equality Index (DEI). In February, 2021, United received a perfect score of 100%, for the tenth consecutive year, on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The scorecard is a benchmarking report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality. The perfect score places United on the prestigious 2021 list of "Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality."
Additionally, we announced in January that we have achieved near perfect gender and pay equity for our U.S.-based population and, to promote greater transparency, have shared our gender and racial/ethnic representation for our workforce with our employees. We remain committed to continuing to share this information as we continue our journey towards great diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our organization.
Health Benefits: COVID-19 Impacts. United offers a variety of medical plans and options, including vision, dental, long-term disability and life insurance. At United, physical, emotional and financial wellness are top priorities. In 2020, United implemented new benefits and enhanced preexisting benefits to assist employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. These included enhanced telemedicine offerings to all employees, contact tracing, modified absence management practices and additional mental health programs and resources.
Collective Bargaining Agreements. Collective bargaining agreements between the Company and its represented employee groups are negotiated under the RLA. Such agreements typically do not contain an expiration date and instead specify an amendable date, upon which the agreement is considered "open for amendment."
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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, 2020:    
Employee
Group
Number of EmployeesUnion
Agreement Open for Amendment
Flight Attendants 16,507 Association of Flight Attendants (the "AFA")August 2021
Pilots11,840 ALPAJanuary 2019
Fleet Service11,383 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (the "IAM")December 2021
Passenger Service9,272 IAMDecember 2021
Technicians6,630 IBTDecember 2022
Passenger Service - United Ground Express, Inc. 3,427 IAMMarch 2025
Catering1,941 UNITE HEREN/A
Storekeepers653 IAMDecember 2021
Dispatchers 249 Professional Airline Flight Control AssociationDecember 2021
Fleet Tech Instructors112 IAMDecember 2021
Load Planners41 IAMDecember 2021
Security Officers45 IAMDecember 2021
Maintenance Instructors36 IAMDecember 2021
Information about Our Executive Officers
Kate Gebo. Age 52. 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. From November 2009 to October 2015, Ms. Gebo served as Vice President of Corporate Real Estate of United.
Brett J. Hart. Age 51. 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 Airlines, Inc. ("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. Age 55. Ms. Jojo has served as Executive Vice President Technology and Chief Digital Officer of UAL and United since May 2017. From November 2014 to May 2017, Ms. Jojo served as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of UAL and United. From July 2011 to October 2014, Ms. Jojo 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, Ms. Jojo served as Chief Information Officer of Energy Future Holdings, a Dallas-based privately held energy company and electrical utility provider.
Chris Kenny. Age 56. Mr. Kenny has served as Vice President and Controller of UAL and United since October 2010. From September 2003 to September 2010, Mr. Kenny served as Vice President and Controller of Continental. Mr. Kenny joined Continental in 1997.
J. Scott Kirby. Age 53. 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
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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.
Gerald Laderman. Age 63. Mr. Laderman has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since August 2018. Mr. Laderman served as Senior Vice President Finance, Procurement and Treasurer for UAL and United from 2013 to August 2015, and again from August 2016 to May 2018. Mr. Laderman additionally was acting Chief Financial Officer from August 2015 to August 2016 and from May 2018 to August 2018. Mr. Laderman served as Senior Vice President Finance and Treasurer for the Company from 2010 to 2013. From 2001 to 2010, Mr. Laderman served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Treasurer for Continental. Mr. Laderman joined Continental in 1988 as senior director legal affairs, finance and aircraft programs.
Oscar Munoz. Age 62. Mr. Munoz has served as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of UAL since May 2020. Mr. Munoz served as Chief Executive Officer of UAL and United from September 2015 to May 2020, and also as President of UAL and United from September 2015 until August 2016. From February 2015 to September 2015, Mr. Munoz served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CSX Corporation ("CSX"), a railroad and intermodal transportation services company, overseeing operations, sales and marketing, human resources, service design and information technology. Prior to his appointment as President and Chief Operating Officer of CSX, Mr. Munoz served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CSX from January 2012 to February 2015 and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of CSX from 2003 to 2012. Mr. Munoz has been a member of the UAL Board of Directors since 2010.
Andrew Nocella. Age 51. 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.
Jonathan Roitman. Age 55. Mr. Roitman has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of UAL and United since September 2020. Mr. Roitman served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the Company from June 2020 to September 2020. Mr. Roitman served as Senior Vice President Airport and Network Operations of United from November 2019 to May 2020. From August 2018 to November 2019, Mr. Roitman served as Senior Vice President Airport and Catering Operations, and from January 2015 to August 2018, he served as Senior Vice President Airport Operations of United. From December 1997 through January 2015, Mr. Roitman held positions of increasing responsibility at United and at Continental prior to its merger with the Company, including as Senior Vice President Operations and Cargo, Vice President, Newark Hub, and Vice President, Cleveland Hub. Prior to joining Continental in December 1997, Mr. Roitman was the manager of business development for BWAB Incorporated, a real estate development and oil and gas production firm, and served in the U.S. Army.
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ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS.
The following risk factors should be read carefully when evaluating the Company's business and the forward-looking statements contained in this report and other statements the Company or its representatives make from time to time. Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this report. Risks not currently known to the Company or that the Company currently deems to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this report.
Risk Factor Summary
The following is a summary of the principal risks that could adversely affect, or have adversely affected, the Company's business, operating results and financial condition:
The adverse impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, and possible outbreaks of another disease or similar public health threat in the future, on our business, operating results, financial condition, liquidity and near-term and long-term strategic operating plan, including possible additional adverse impacts resulting from the duration and spread of the pandemic;
Unfavorable economic and political conditions in the United States and globally;
The highly competitive nature of the global airline industry and susceptibility of the industry to price discounting and changes in capacity;
High and/or volatile fuel prices or significant disruptions in the supply of aircraft fuel;
Our reliance on technology and automated systems to operate our business and the impact of any significant failure or disruption of, or failure to effectively integrate and implement, the technology or systems;
Our reliance on third-party service providers and the impact of any failure of these parties to perform as expected, or interruptions in our relationships with these providers or their provision of services;
Adverse publicity, harm to our brand, reduced travel demand and potential tort liability as a result of an accident, catastrophe or incident involving us, our regional carriers, our codeshare partners, or another airline;
Terrorist attacks, international hostilities or other security events, or the fear of terrorist attacks or hostilities, even if not made directly on the airline industry;
Increasing privacy and data security obligations or a significant data breach;
Disruptions to our regional network and United Express flights provided by third-party regional carriers;
The failure of our significant investments in other airlines, including AVH and its affiliates, and the commercial relationships that we have with those carriers, to produce the returns or results we expect;
Further changes to the airline industry with respect to alliances and JBAs or due to consolidations;
Changes in our network strategy or other factors outside our control resulting in less economic aircraft orders, costs related to modification or termination of aircraft orders or entry into less favorable aircraft orders;
Our reliance on single suppliers to source a majority of our aircraft and certain parts, and the impact of any failure to obtain timely deliveries, additional equipment or support from any of these suppliers;
The impacts of union disputes, employee strikes or slowdowns, and other labor-related disruptions on our operations;
Extended interruptions or disruptions in service at major airports where we operate;
The impacts of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU on our operations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere;
The impacts of seasonality and other factors associated with the airline industry;
Our failure to realize the full value of our intangible assets or our long-lived assets, causing us to record impairments;
Any damage to our reputation or brand image;
The limitation of our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income for U.S. federal income tax purposes;
The costs of compliance with extensive government regulation of the airline industry;
Costs, liabilities and risks associated with environmental regulation and climate change;
Continued restrictions on the use of our Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and our inability to accept or integrate new aircraft into our fleet as planned;
The impacts of our significant amount of financial leverage from fixed obligations, the possibility we may seek material amounts of additional financial liquidity in the short-term and insufficient liquidity on our financial condition and business;
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Failure to comply with the covenants in the MileagePlus Financing agreements, resulting in the possible acceleration of the MileagePlus indebtedness, foreclosure upon the collateral securing the MileagePlus indebtedness or the exercise of other remedies;
Failure to comply with financial and other covenants governing our other debt;
Changes in, or failure to retain, our senior management team or other key employees;
Current or future litigation and regulatory actions, or failure to comply with the terms of any settlement, order or arrangement relating to these actions; and
Increases in insurance costs or inadequate insurance coverage.
For a more complete discussion of the material risks facing the Company's business, see below.
Risks Relating to COVID-19
The global pandemic resulting from a novel strain of coronavirus has had an adverse impact that has been material to the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity, and the duration and spread of the pandemic could result in additional adverse impacts. The outbreak of another disease or similar public health threat in the future could also have an adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, together with the measures implemented or recommended by governmental authorities and private organizations in response to the pandemic, has had an adverse impact that has been material to the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity. Measures such as "shelter in place" or quarantine requirements, international and domestic travel restrictions or advisories, limitations on public gatherings, social distancing recommendations, remote work arrangements and closures of tourist destinations and attractions, as well as consumer perceptions of the safety, ease and predictability of air travel, have contributed to a precipitous decline in passenger demand and bookings for both business and leisure travel.
The Company began experiencing a significant decline in international and domestic demand related to COVID-19 during the first quarter of 2020. The decline in demand caused a material deterioration in our revenues in 2020, resulting in a net loss of $7.1 billion. The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the Company's longer-term operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including those outside our control related to the efficacy and speed of vaccination programs in curbing the spread of the virus, the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus which may be resistant to currently approved vaccines, passenger testing requirements, mask mandates or other restrictions on travel, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with certainty. In response to decreased demand, the Company cut, relative to 2019 capacity, approximately 57% of its scheduled capacity for 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the Company expects scheduled capacity to be down at least 51% versus the first quarter of 2019. The Company plans to continue to proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand and expects demand to remain suppressed, relative to 2019 levels, until vaccines for COVID-19 are widely distributed and are effective in curbing the spread of the virus. In addition, the Company does not currently expect the recovery from COVID-19 to follow a linear path. As such, the Company's actual flown capacity may differ materially from its currently scheduled capacity.
The Company has taken a number of actions in response to the decreased demand for air travel. In addition to the schedule reductions discussed above, the Company reduced its planned capital expenditures and reduced operating expenditures for 2020, terminated its share repurchase program, issued or entered into approximately $13.4 billion in secured notes, secured facilities and new aircraft financings, raised approximately $2.1 billion in cash proceeds from the issuance and sale of UAL common stock, borrowed $1.0 billion under the $2.0 billion revolving credit facility, entered into an agreement to finance certain aircraft currently subject to purchase agreements through sale and leaseback transactions, deferred $199 million in payroll taxes incurred through December 31, 2020, as provided by the CARES Act, until December 2021, at which time 50% is due, with the remaining amount due December 2022, temporarily grounded certain of its mainline fleet, implemented strategic workforce reductions and took a number of other actions to reduce employee-related costs. In addition, in connection with the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act, United entered into Payroll Support Program agreements with the U.S. Treasury Department ("Treasury") that provided the Company with total funding of approximately $7.7 billion to pay the salaries and benefits of employees through March 31, 2021. The Company also entered into a term loan facility of up to approximately $7.5 billion (the "Term Loan Facility") pursuant to the loan program established under Section 4003(b) of the CARES Act (the "Loan Program"), and on September 28, 2020, United borrowed $520 million under the Term Loan Facility. The grants and loans under the CARES Act subject the Company and its business to certain restrictions, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the payment of dividends and the ability to repurchase UAL's equity securities, requirements to maintain certain levels of scheduled service, requirements to recall certain furloughed employees and maintain U.S. employment levels through March 31, 2021 and certain limitations on executive compensation. These restrictions and requirements have materially affected and will continue to materially affect the Company's operations, and the Company may not be successful in managing these impacts for the duration of the restrictions. In particular, limitations on executive
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compensation, which, depending on the form of aid, could extend up to six years, may impact the Company's ability to attract and retain senior management or attract other key employees during this critical time.
The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the Company's longer-term operational and financial performance and liquidity position will depend on future developments, including the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies discussed above in offsetting decreased demand, the duration and spread of COVID-19 and related travel advisories and restrictions, the impact of COVID-19 on overall long-term domestic and international demand for air travel, including the impact on overall demand for business travel as a result of increased usage of teleconferencing and other technologies, the impact of COVID-19 on the financial health and operations of the Company's business partners and future governmental actions, including whether applicable governmental authorities will continue to grant waivers of usage requirements for certain of the Company's slots, routes and gates or will require passenger testing for domestic U.S. travel. All of these future developments are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with certainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a material impact on the Company, and the continuation of reduced demand could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity.
In addition, an outbreak of another disease or similar public health threat, or fear of such an event, that affects travel demand, travel behavior or travel restrictions could have a material adverse impact on the Company's business, financial condition and operating results. Outbreaks of other diseases could also result in increased government restrictions and regulation, such as those actions described above or otherwise, which could adversely affect our operations.
COVID-19 has materially disrupted our strategic operating plans in the near-term, and there are risks to our business, operating results and financial condition associated with executing our strategic operating plans in the long-term.
COVID-19 has materially disrupted our strategic operating plans in the near-term, and there are risks to our business, operating results and financial condition associated with executing our strategic operating plans in the long-term. In recent years, we have announced several strategic operating plans, including several revenue-generating initiatives and plans to optimize our revenue, such as our plans to add capacity, including international expansion and new or increased service to mid-size airports, initiatives and plans to optimize and control our costs and opportunities to enhance our segmentation and improve the customer experience at all points in air travel. In developing our strategic operating plans, we make certain assumptions, including, but not limited to, those related to customer demand, competition, market consolidation, the availability of aircraft and the global economy. Actual economic, market and other conditions have been and may continue to be different from our assumptions. Most significantly in 2020, the precipitous decline in demand for air travel required us to cut, rather than grow, capacity and materially and adversely impacted our ability to execute our strategic operating plans. If we do not successfully execute or adjust our strategic operating plans in the long-term, or if actual results continue to vary significantly from our prior assumptions or vary significantly from our future assumptions, our business, operating results and financial condition could be materially and adversely impacted.
Risks Relating to Our Business and Industry
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. Robust demand for the Company's air transportation services depends largely on favorable economic conditions, including the strength of the domestic and foreign economies, low unemployment levels, strong 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. During such periods, the Company's business and operating results may be adversely affected due to 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 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 can negatively impact the demand and network availability for air travel. 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.
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Stagnant or weakening global economic conditions either in the United States or in other geographic regions may have a material adverse effect on the Company's revenues, operating results and liquidity.
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 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.
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. Such carriers 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. This level of discounted pricing 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, in light of the expansion opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, 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. 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 country and ultimate destination, 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 operating results and financial condition.
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 enterprise operating results and financial condition.
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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, 2020, the Company's fuel expense was approximately $3.2 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. Market prices for aircraft fuel have historically fluctuated substantially in short periods of time and continue to be highly volatile due to a dependence on a multitude of unpredictable factors beyond the Company's control. These factors include 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.
Given the highly competitive nature of the airline industry, the Company may not be able to 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 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.
To protect against increases in the market prices of fuel, the Company may hedge a portion of its future fuel requirements. The Company does not currently hedge its future fuel requirements. However, to the extent the Company decides to start a hedging program, 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 hedge a portion of its future fuel requirements and uses 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, will 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 new hedge contracts in the future.
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, the technology or these systems could materially harm its business.
The Company depends on automated systems and technology 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, revenue management systems, accounting systems, technical and business operations systems, telecommunication systems and commercial websites and applications, including www.united.com and the United Airlines app. United's website and other automated systems must be able to accommodate a high volume of traffic, maintain secure information and deliver important flight and schedule information, as well as process critical financial transactions. These systems could suffer substantial or repeated disruptions due to various events, some of which are beyond the Company's control, including natural disasters, power failures, terrorist attacks, equipment or software failures or cyber security attacks. We have initiatives in place to prevent disruptions and disaster recovery plans, and we continue to invest in improvements to these initiatives and plans; however, these measures may not be adequate to prevent or mitigate disruptions. Substantial or repeated systems failures or disruptions, including failures or disruptions related to the Company's complex integration of systems, could reduce the attractiveness of the Company's services versus those of its competitors, materially impair its ability to market its services and operate its flights, result in the unauthorized release of
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confidential or otherwise protected information, result in increased costs, lost revenue and the loss or compromise of important data, and may adversely affect the Company's business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company may also face challenges in integrating, implementing and modifying the automated systems and technology required to operate its business. As a result of the complexity of such automated systems and technology, the integration, implementation and modification process may require significant expenditures, human resources, the development of effective internal controls and the transformation of business and financial processes. If the Company is unable to timely or effectively integrate, implement or modify its systems and technology, the Company's operations could be adversely affected.
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 and catering services, among other vital functions and services. The Company does not directly control these third-party service providers, although generally it does enter into agreements that define expected service performance and compliance requirements, such as compliance with legal requirements, including anti-corruption laws; however, there can be no assurance that our third-party service providers will adhere to these requirements.
Any of these third-party service providers, however, may materially fail to meet its service performance commitments to the Company or may suffer disruptions to its systems that could impact its 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 its 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 providers or such contracts may be terminated or may not be extended or renewed. For example, the number of flight reservations booked through third-party GDSs or online travel agents ("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.
The Company could experience adverse publicity, harm to its brand, reduced travel demand, potential tort liability and voluntary or mandatory operational restrictions as a result of an accident, catastrophe or incident involving its aircraft or its operations, the aircraft or operations of its regional carriers, the aircraft or operations of its codeshare partners, or the aircraft or operations of another airline, which may result in a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results and financial condition.
An accident, catastrophe or incident involving an aircraft that the Company operates, or an aircraft that is operated by a codeshare partner, one of the Company's regional carriers or another airline, or an incident involving the Company's operations, or the operations of a codeshare partner, one of the Company's regional carriers or 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. Additionally, any accident, catastrophe or incident involving an aircraft type that is operated by the Company, its codeshare partners or regional carriers could have a material adverse effect on the Company if such accident, catastrophe or incident creates a public perception that such aircraft type was not safe or reliable. Further, any such accident, catastrophe or incident involving the Company, its regional carriers or its codeshare partners could expose the Company to
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significant tort 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 operating results and 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. For example, the Company decided to voluntarily ground its Boeing 777 aircraft following certain mechanical failures, and the resulting public perceptions of the safety of our operations and the reliability of Boeing 777 aircraft could adversely affect our business. A prolonged period of time operating a reduced fleet in these circumstances could result in a material adverse effect on the Company's operating results and financial condition.
In addition, the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have adversely impacted customer perceptions of the health and safety of travel and these negative perceptions could continue even after the pandemic subsides. Actual or perceived risk of infection on our flights, at airports and during other travel-related activities has had, and may continue to have, a material adverse effect on the public's perception of us, which has harmed, and may continue to harm, our reputation and business. We have incurred, and expect that we will continue to incur, COVID-19- related costs as we sanitize aircraft, implement additional hygiene-related protocols and take other actions to limit the threat of infection among our employees and passengers and combat negative customer perceptions of the health and safety of travel on our aircraft and at our terminals. Negative public perceptions could, in turn, result in adverse publicity for the Company, cause harm to the Company's brand and reduce travel demand on the Company's flights, or the flights of its codeshare partners or regional carriers.
Terrorist attacks, international hostilities or other security events, or the fear of terrorist attacks or hostilities, even if not made directly on the airline industry, could negatively affect the Company and the airline industry.
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. Security events pose a significant risk to our passenger and cargo operations. These events could include acts of violence in public areas that we cannot control. The Company's financial resources may not be sufficient to absorb the adverse effects of any future terrorist attacks, international hostilities or other security events. Any such events 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 the threats and ensure the safety of our employees and customers. With the need to implement proper security measures, and the need to ensure the efficacy and efficiency of security inspection throughput to support the pace of our operations, it is unlikely that we will be able to capture all security-related costs through increased fares, which could adversely affect our operating results.
Increasing privacy and data security obligations or a significant data breach may adversely affect the Company's business.
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. The Company depends on the ability to use information we collect to provide our services and operate our business.
The Company must manage increasing legislative, regulatory and consumer focus on privacy issues and data security in a variety of jurisdictions 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. Also, some of the Company's commercial partners, such as credit card companies, have imposed data security standards that the Company must meet. These standards continue to evolve. The Company will continue its efforts to meet its privacy and data security 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.
Additionally, the Company must manage evolving cybersecurity risks. Our network, systems and storage applications, and those systems and applications maintained by our third-party commercial partners (such as credit card companies and international airline partners), may be subject to attempts to gain unauthorized access, breach, malfeasance or other system disruptions. In some cases, it is difficult to anticipate or to detect immediately such incidents and the damage caused thereby. In addition, as attacks by cybercriminals become more sophisticated, frequent and intense, the costs of proactive defense measures may increase. Furthermore, the Company's remote work arrangements make it more vulnerable to targeted activity from
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cybercriminals and significantly increase the risk of cyber-attacks or other security breaches. While we continually work to safeguard our internal network, systems and applications, including through risk assessments, system monitoring, cybersecurity and data protection security policies, processes and technologies and employee awareness and training, and require third-party security standards, there is no assurance that such actions will be sufficient to prevent cyber-attacks or data breaches.
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 obligations could result in legal claims or proceedings, penalties and remediation costs. A significant data breach or the Company's failure to meet its obligations may adversely affect the Company's operations, reputation, relationships with our business partners, business, operating results and financial condition.
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.
The Company has contractual relationships with various regional carriers to provide regional aircraft service branded as United Express. These regional operations are an extension of the Company's mainline network and complement the Company's operations by carrying traffic that connects to mainline service and allows flights to smaller cities that cannot be provided economically with mainline aircraft. The Company's business and operations are dependent on its regional flight network, with regional capacity accounting for approximately 14.6% of the Company's total capacity for the year ended December 31, 2020.
Although the Company has agreements with its regional carriers 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 and seasonality. The significant decline in demand for air travel services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has also materially impacted demand for regional carrier services and, as a result, the Company's utilization of its regional network is significantly reduced and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future. As a result, we may face claims that we failed to perform certain obligations under our agreements with our regional carriers and may incur damages. We expect the disruption to services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to adversely affect our regional carriers, some of which may declare bankruptcy or otherwise cease to operate.
In addition, the decrease in qualified pilots driven by changes to federal regulations has adversely impacted and could continue to affect 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 factors including a decreased student pilot population and a shrinking U.S. military from which to hire qualified pilots, could adversely impact the Company's operations and financial condition, and could also require the Company to reduce regional carrier flying.
If, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pilot shortage or another significant disruption to our regional network, one or more of the regional carriers with which the Company has relationships is unable to perform its obligations over an extended period of time, there could be a material adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results and financial condition. In addition, although our need for regional carrier services is materially lower than in prior years, we may be obligated to make minimum payments under one or more of our contracts with our regional providers that are in excess of the cost of the services we currently require from them.
Our significant investments in other airlines, including in other parts of the world, and the commercial relationships that we have with those carriers may not produce the returns or results we expect.
An important part of our strategy to expand our global network has included making significant investments in airlines both domestically and in other parts of the world and expanding our commercial relationships with these carriers. For example, in January 2019, we completed the acquisition of a 49.9% interest in ManaAir LLC ("ManaAir"), which, as of immediately following the closing of that investment, owns 100% of the equity interests in ExpressJet. We also have minority equity interests in CommutAir and Republic Airways Holdings Inc. See Note 9 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information regarding our investments in regional airlines. We also have significant investments in Latin American airlines, including significant investments in Avianca Holdings, S.A. ("AVH") and BRW Aviation LLC ("BRW"), an affiliate of Synergy Aerospace Corporation and the majority shareholder of AVH, and an equity investment in Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A. ("Azul"). In the future, our regional and global business strategy could include entering into JBAs, commercial agreements and strategic alliances with other carriers, and possibly making loan transactions with, and non-controlling investments in, such carriers.
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These transactions and relationships involve significant challenges and risks, and we face competition in forming and maintaining these relationships, since there are a limited number of potential arrangements and other airlines are looking to enter into similar relationships. We are dependent on these other carriers for significant aspects of our network in the regions in which they operate. While we work closely with these carriers, each is a separately certificated commercial air carrier, and we do not have control over their operations, strategy, management or business methods. And not only are these airlines subject to a number of the same risks as our business, which are described elsewhere in this Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, competitive pressures on pricing, demand and capacity, changes in aircraft fuel pricing, and the impact of global and local political and economic conditions on operations and customer travel patterns, among others, they are also subject to their own distinct financial and operational risks.
As a result of these and other factors, we may not realize satisfactory returns on our investments, and we may not receive repayment of any invested or loaned funds. Further, these investments may not generate the revenue or operational synergies we expect, and they may distract management focus from our operations or other strategic options. Finally, our reliance on these other carriers in the regions in which they operate may negatively impact our regional and global operations and results if those carriers continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other general business risks discussed above or perform below our expectations or needs and are not able to effectively mitigate these impacts or restore performance levels. Any one or more of these events could have a material adverse effect on our operating results or financial condition.
We exercised our right to withdraw all aircraft from our capacity purchase agreement with ExpressJet, and, as of October 1, 2020 ExpressJet no longer provides regional capacity services to United. See Notes 9 and 11 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information regarding our investments in AVH and Azul and our capacity purchase arrangements with ExpressJet, respectively. See also the additional risks with respect to our investment in AVH, which are described elsewhere in this Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors.
We may also be subject to consequences from any illegal conduct of JBA partners, including for failure to comply with anti-corruption laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Furthermore, our relationships with these carriers may be subject to the laws and regulations of non-U.S. jurisdictions in which these carriers are located or conduct business. In addition, any political or regulatory change in these jurisdictions that negatively impacts or prohibits our arrangements with these carriers could have an adverse effect on our operating results or financial condition. To the extent that the operations of any of these carriers are disrupted over an extended period of time (including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) or their actions subject us to the consequences of failure to comply with laws and regulations, our operating results may be adversely affected.
Our significant investments in AVH and its affiliates, and the commercial relationships that we have with Avianca may not produce the returns or results we expect.
In November 2018, as part of our global network strategy, United entered into a revenue-sharing JBA with Avianca, a subsidiary of AVH, Copa and several of their respective affiliates, subject to regulatory approval. Concurrently with this transaction, United, as lender, entered into a Term Loan Agreement (the "BRW Term Loan Agreement") with, among others, BRW Aviation Holding LLC ("BRW Holding") and BRW, as guarantor and borrower, respectively. Pursuant to the BRW Term Loan Agreement, United provided to BRW a $456 million term loan (the "BRW Term Loan"), secured by a pledge of BRW's equity, as well as BRW's 516 million common shares of AVH, which can be converted and exchanged into 64.5 million American Depositary Receipts ("ADRs") of AVH (such shares and equity, collectively, the "BRW Loan Collateral"). In connection with funding the BRW Term Loan Agreement, the Company entered into an agreement with Kingsland Holdings Limited, AVH's largest minority shareholder ("Kingsland"), pursuant to which United granted to Kingsland a right to put its AVH common shares to United at market price on the fifth anniversary of the BRW Term Loan Agreement or upon certain sales of AVH common shares owned by BRW, including upon a foreclosure of United's security interest or any completed liquidation or dissolution of AVH, and also guaranteed BRW's obligation to pay Kingsland the excess, if any, of $12 per ADR on the NYSE and such market price of AVH common shares on the fifth anniversary, or upon any such sale, as applicable (the "Cooperation Payment"), for an aggregate maximum possible combined put payment and guarantee amount of $217 million. See Notes 8 and 13 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information regarding our obligations to Kingsland and their interrelationship with the BRW Term Loan Agreement.
BRW is currently in default under the BRW Term Loan Agreement, and since May 2019 United has been exercising certain remedies under the terms of the BRW Term Loan Agreement and related documents. In September 2019, a New York state court granted summary judgment authorizing the foreclosure on the BRW Loan Collateral, and enjoined BRW Holding from interfering with the ability of Kingsland (as United's agent) to exercise voting and other rights in certain equity interests in BRW. These rulings are intermediate steps in the judicial foreclosure process in New York and are being appealed. The timing and outcome of the judicial foreclosure process is subject to significant uncertainty given the filing by AVH and certain of its affiliates of voluntary reorganization proceedings under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the U.S.
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Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the "Bankruptcy Court") on May 10, 2020 (as described in more detail below, the "AVH Reorganization Proceedings"). In light of the AVH Reorganization Proceedings, the New York state court judge presiding over the foreclosure proceedings agreed to stay those proceedings until March 2021. Based on United's assessment of AVH's financial uncertainty and the fact that Avianca had ceased operations as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, during the first quarter of 2020, the Company recorded a $697 million expected credit loss allowance for the BRW Term Loan and the Cooperation Payment.
In 2019, United entered into a senior secured convertible term loan agreement (the "AVH Convertible Loan Agreement") with, among others, AVH, as borrower, and pursuant thereto provided a convertible term loan to AVH in the aggregate amount of $150 million (the "AVH Convertible Loan").
See Notes 8 and 13 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information regarding our investments in AVH and its affiliates and our guarantee of the Cooperation Payment, respectively.
In October 2020, AVH consummated a $2 billion debtor-in-possession financing (the "AVH DIP Financing"). The AVH Convertible Loan was refinanced, or "rolled up," into the AVH DIP Financing without any investment of new funds by United, and as a result United is a Tranche B DIP lender in the AVH DIP Financing to the extent of the principal and interest owed on the AVH Convertible Loan (or less, under certain circumstances). United's Tranche B loan accrues interest at a rate of 14.5% per annum and can be converted, at AVH's option in certain circumstances, into equity upon AVH's exit from bankruptcy. As part of the AVH DIP Financing, the Bankruptcy Court also approved certain amendments to the alliance agreement and certain related agreements among United, Avianca and some of Avianca's subsidiaries and additional arrangements among those parties applicable to whether AVH accepts or rejects the JBA at or prior to the end of the bankruptcy case. There is no guarantee that United's participation in the AVH DIP Financing will produce the results expected or result in the ultimate repayment to United of the amounts initially loaned under the AVH Convertible Loan. While United's position as an AVH DIP Financing lender provides it with priority secured claims and liens that have been approved by the Bankruptcy Court, the duration of the AVH Reorganization Proceedings is difficult to predict, and United's recovery on its claims, including possibly repayment or conversion of its Tranche B DIP Loans, may be adversely affected by, among other things, delays while a plan of reorganization is being negotiated and approved by creditors entitled to vote on it and whether such plan or reorganization is confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court and subsequently becomes effective.
These transactions and relationships involve significant challenges and risks, particularly given the AVH Reorganization Proceedings, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the judicial foreclosure process to which the repayment of the BRW Term Loan is subject. Furthermore, while we have worked closely with Avianca in connection with the JBA, and have supported AVH by providing capital in the form of the AVH Convertible Loan and then the AVH DIP Financing, Avianca is a separately certificated commercial air carrier, and we do not have control over its or AVH's operations, strategy, management or business methods. Avianca is also subject to a number of the same risks as our business, which are described elsewhere in this Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors, as updated by this report, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, competitive pressures on pricing, demand and capacity, changes in aircraft fuel pricing, and the impact of global and local political and economic conditions on operations and customer travel patterns, among others, as well as to its own distinct financial and operational risks.
As a result of these and other factors, including the AVH Reorganization Proceedings and delays in foreclosure proceedings, we may not receive full (or any) repayment of our BRW Term Loan (including any payment we make in respect of the Cooperation Payment), our AVH Convertible Loan or our participation in the AVH DIP Financing, and we may be unable to realize the full (or any) value of the BRW Loan Collateral or the collateral securing the AVH Convertible Loan or the AVH DIP Financing, as applicable. As a consequence, we may not realize a satisfactory (or any) return on our invested or loaned funds with respect to BRW, AVH and its affiliates.
Further, these investments may not generate the revenue or operational synergies we expect, and they may distract management focus from our operations or other strategic options. Finally, our reliance on Avianca in the region in which it operates may negatively impact our global operations and results if AVH does not successfully emerge from the AVH Reorganization Proceedings or the COVID-19 pandemic, if the JBA is rejected in connection with the AVH Reorganization Proceedings or if AVH is otherwise impacted by general business risks or performs below our expectations or needs. Any one or more of these events could have a material adverse effect on our operating results or financial condition.
The airline industry may undergo further change with respect to alliances and JBAs or due to consolidations, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the Company.
The Company faces, and may continue to face, strong competition from other carriers due to the modification of alliances and formation of new JBAs. Carriers may improve their competitive positions through airline alliances, slot swaps and/or JBAs. Certain types of airline JBAs further competition by allowing multiple airlines to coordinate routes, pool revenues
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and costs, and enjoy other mutual benefits, achieving many of the benefits of consolidation. 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 and Brazil, 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. The Company routinely engages in analyses and discussions regarding its own strategic position, including current and potential alliances, asset acquisitions and divestitures and may have future discussions with other airlines regarding strategic activities. If other airlines participate in such activities, those airlines may significantly improve their cost structures or revenue generation capabilities, thereby potentially making them stronger competitors of the Company and potentially impairing the Company's ability to realize expected benefits from its own strategic relationships.
Orders for new aircraft typically must be placed years in advance of scheduled deliveries, and 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.
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 of February 2021, the Company had firm commitments to purchase 298 new aircraft from The Boeing Company ("Boeing"), Airbus S.A.S ("Airbus") and Embraer S.A. ("Embraer"), as well as related agreements with engine manufacturers, maintenance providers and others. As of February 2021, the Company's commitments relating to the acquisition of aircraft and related spare engines, aircraft improvements and other related obligations aggregated to a total of approximately $24.3 billion.
Subsequent to the Company placing an order for new aircraft, the Company's network strategy may change. As a result, the Company's preference for a particular aircraft that it has ordered, often years in advance, may be decreased or eliminated. If the Company were to modify or terminate any of its existing aircraft order commitments, it may be responsible for material liabilities to its counterparties arising from any such modification. Additionally, the Company may have a need for additional aircraft that are not available under its existing orders. In such cases, the Company 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.
The imposition of new tariffs, or any increase in existing tariffs, on the importation of commercial aircraft that the Company orders may result in higher costs. For example, in October 2019, the United States imposed tariffs on certain imports from the EU, including a customs duty at an ad valorem rate of 10% on new commercial aircraft, which rate, in February 2020, was increased to 15%. These tariffs apply to certain new Airbus aircraft that we have on order. Additionally, in December 2020, the United States imposed tariffs on certain aircraft components from France and Germany. While the scope and rate of these tariffs are subject to change, if and to the extent these tariffs are imposed on us, they could increase the effective cost of, among other things, new Airbus aircraft and aircraft components.
A majority of the Company's aircraft and certain parts are sourced from single 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 the majority of its aircraft and many related aircraft parts from Boeing. 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 from Boeing, or if Boeing fails to make timely deliveries of aircraft or to provide adequate support for its products, the Company's operations could be materially and adversely affected. The Company is also dependent on a limited number of suppliers for aircraft engines and certain other aircraft parts and could, therefore, also be materially and adversely affected in the event of the unavailability of these engines and other parts.
Union disputes, employee strikes or slowdowns, and other labor-related disruptions 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, 2020, the Company and its subsidiaries had approximately 74,400 employees, of whom approximately 84% were represented by various U.S. labor organizations. See Part I, Item 1. Business—Human Capital, of this report for additional information on our represented employee groups and collective bargaining agreements.
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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 RLA 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, which increase could be material.
Extended interruptions or disruptions in service at major airports where we operate could have a material adverse impact on our operations.
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 an airport where we have significant operations could have a material impact on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
We operate principally through our domestic hubs in Newark, Chicago O'Hare, Denver, Houston Bush, LAX, Guam, SFO and Washington Dulles. Substantially all of our flights either originate in or fly into one of these locations. A significant interruption or disruption in service at one of our hubs or other airports where we have a significant presence resulting from ATC delays, weather conditions, natural disasters, growth constraints, relations with third-party service providers, failure of computer systems, disruptions to government agencies or personnel (including as a result of government shutdowns), disruptions at airport facilities or other key facilities used by us to manage our operations, labor relations, power supplies, fuel supplies, terrorist activities, international hostilities or otherwise could result in the cancellation or delay of a significant portion of our flights and, as a result, could have a material impact on our business, operating results and financial condition. We have minimal control over the operation, quality or maintenance of these services or whether vendors will improve or continue to provide services that are essential to our business.
The United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU may adversely impact our operations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom ("UK") withdrew from the EU, and started a transition period that ran through December 31, 2020. During that time, the EU and UK negotiated a comprehensive trade agreement that provisionally went into effect on January 1, 2021. The agreement includes an aviation chapter that preserves EU-UK air connectivity.
In connection with the UK's exit from the EU, we could face new challenges in our operations, such as instability in global financial and foreign exchange markets. This instability could result in market volatility, including in the value of the British pound and European euro, additional travel restrictions on passengers traveling between the UK and EU countries, changes to the legal status of EU-resident employees, legal uncertainty and divergent national laws and regulations. At this time, we cannot predict the precise impact that the UK's exit from the EU will have on our business generally and our UK and European operations more specifically, and no assurance can be given that our operating results, financial condition and prospects would not be adversely impacted by the result.
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 or pandemics, 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 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.
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. In addition, the Company is required to test certain of its other assets for impairment where there is any indication that an asset may be impaired.
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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 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, in 2020, the Company recorded impairment charges of $130 million for its China routes, primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Company's subsequent suspension of flights to China, $38 million for its right-of-use asset associated with an embedded aircraft lease under a CPA, primarily as a result of reduced cash flows from the COVID-19 pandemic, and $94 million related to certain of the Company's fleet of Boeing 757 aircraft, and $56 million with respect to various cancelled facility, aircraft induction and information technology capital projects as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on our operations. In addition, in 2019, the Company recorded impairment charges of $90 million associated with its Hong Kong routes, resulting in the full impairment of these assets. The Company can provide no assurance that a material impairment loss of tangible or intangible assets will not occur in a future period. The value of the Company's aircraft could be impacted in future periods by changes in supply and demand for these aircraft. Such changes in supply and demand for certain aircraft types could result from the grounding of aircraft. An impairment loss could have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition and operating results.
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 to achieve and/or make progress toward our environmental and sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion, goals, public pressure from investors or policy groups to change our policies, customer perceptions of our advertising campaigns, sponsorship arrangements or marketing programs, customer perceptions of our use of social media, 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.
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, 2020, UAL reported consolidated U.S. federal net operating loss ("NOL") carryforwards of approximately $11.0 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. 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 ("Section 382"). An ownership change generally occurs if certain stockholders increase their aggregate percentage ownership of a corporation's stock by more than 50 percentage points over their lowest percentage ownership at any time during the testing period, which is generally the three-year period preceding any potential ownership change.
In general, a corporation that experiences an ownership change will be subject to an annual limitation on its pre-ownership change NOLs and certain other tax attribute carryforwards equal to the value of the corporation's stock immediately before the ownership change, multiplied by the applicable long-term, tax-exempt rate posted by the IRS. Any unused annual limitation may, subject to certain limits, be carried over to later years, and the limitation may, under certain circumstances, be increased by built-in gains in the assets held by such corporation at the time of the ownership change. This limitation could cause the Company's U.S. federal income taxes to be greater, or to be paid earlier, than they otherwise would be, and could cause a portion of the Company's NOLs and certain other tax attributes to expire unused. Similar rules and limitations may apply for state income tax purposes.
For purposes of determining whether there has been an "ownership change," the change in ownership as a result of purchases by "5-percent shareholders" will be aggregated with certain changes in ownership that occurred over the three-year period ending on the date of such purchases. 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 CARES Act programs, the issuance of UAL common stock upon the conversion of any convertible debt that UAL may issue in the future, the repurchase of any debt with UAL common stock, any issuance of UAL common stock for cash, and the acquisition or disposition of any stock by a stockholder owning 5%
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or more of the outstanding shares of UAL common stock, or a combination of the foregoing. If we were to experience an "ownership change," it is possible that the Company's NOLs and certain other tax attribute carryforwards could expire before we would be able to use them to offset future income tax obligations.
On December 4, 2020, the board of directors of the Company adopted 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. 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 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.
Risks Relating to Legal and Regulatory Compliance
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. Laws, regulations, taxes and airport rates and charges, both domestically and internationally, have been proposed from time to time that could significantly increase the cost of airline operations or reduce airline revenue. The airline industry is heavily taxed and additional taxation could negatively impact our business.
United provides air transportation under certificates of public convenience and necessity issued by the DOT. If the DOT altered, amended, 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, could impose restrictions that materially impact the Company's business. The FAA regulates the safety of United's operations. United operates pursuant to an air carrier operating certificate issued by the FAA. The FAA's regulations include stringent pilot flight and duty time requirements under Part 117 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, as well as minimum qualifications for air carrier first officers. From time to time, the FAA also issues orders, airworthiness directives and other regulations relating to the maintenance and operation of aircraft that require material expenditures or operational restrictions by the Company. These FAA orders and directives have resulted in the temporary grounding of an entire aircraft type if the FAA identifies design, manufacturing, maintenance or other issues requiring immediate corrective action (including the FAA Order grounding Boeing 737 MAX aircraft). These FAA directives or requirements could have a material adverse effect on the Company.
In 2018, the U.S. Congress approved a five-year reauthorization for the FAA, which encompasses significant aviation tax and policy-related issues. The law includes a range of policy changes related to airline customer service and aviation safety. Implementation of some items continues into the new Administration and, depending on how they are implemented, could impact our operations and costs. U.S. Congressional action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided funding for U.S. airlines, in both grants and loans. The U.S. Congress has imposed limited conditions on airlines accepting funding, including workforce retention and minimum service requirements. With the change in control of the U.S. Congress and a new presidential administration, any future funding or other pandemic relief could include additional requirements that could impact our operations and costs. Additionally, the U.S. Congress may consider legislation related to environmental issues or increases to the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate, which could 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. During peak travel periods in certain markets, the current ATC system's inability to handle demand has led to short-term capacity constraints imposed by government agencies and resulted in delays and disruptions of air traffic. In addition, the current system will not be able to effectively handle projected future air traffic growth. The outdated technologies also cause the ATC to be less resilient in the event of a failure, causing flight cancellations and delays. Imposition of these ATC constraints on a long-term basis may have a material adverse effect on the Company's operations. 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 landing and take-off rights, or "slots," at several major U.S. airports and many foreign airports served by the Company are, or recently have been, subject to government regulation. Certain of the Company's major hubs are among the most congested airports in the United States and have been or could be the subject of regulatory action that might limit the number of flights and/or increase costs of operations at certain times or throughout the day. The DOT (including FAA) may limit the Company's airport access by limiting the number of departure and arrival slots at high density traffic airports, which
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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 of access to their facilities, which could have an adverse effect on the Company's business. The DOT historically has taken actions with respect to airlines' slot holdings that airlines have challenged; 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. If slots are eliminated at an airport, 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 or in the regional airspace (e.g., the New York City metropolitan region airspace) and could significantly impact the Company's operations. In addition, as airports around the world become more congested, space, facility, and infrastructure constraints may prevent the Company from maintaining existing service and/or implementing new service in a commercially viable manner. Further, the Company's operating costs at airports, including the Company's major hubs, may increase significantly because of capital improvements at such airports that the Company may be required to fund, directly or indirectly. Such costs could be imposed by the relevant airport authority without the Company's approval and may have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition. Because of airport infrastructure updates and other factors, the Company has experienced increased space rental rates at various airports in its network. Further, the Company cannot control decisions by other airlines to reduce their capacity. When this occurs, certain fixed airport costs are allocated among fewer total flights, which can result in increased landing fees and other costs for the Company. In light of constraints on existing facilities, there is presently a significant amount of capital spending underway at major airports in the United States, including large projects underway at a number of airports where we have significant operations, such as Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). This spending is 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, landing and other facility costs. In some circumstances, such costs could be imposed by the relevant airport authority without our approval. Accordingly, our operating costs are expected to increase significantly at many airports at which we operate, including a number of our hubs and gateways, as a result of capital spending projects currently underway and additional projects that we expect to commence over the next several years.
The ability of carriers to operate flights on international routes between the United States and other countries is highly regulated. Applicable arrangements between the United States and foreign governments 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. 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. In addition, the pandemic has resulted in, and created the potential for, increased regulatory burdens in the U.S. and around the globe. These include but are not limited to 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 a negative impact on travel and airline operations. Any limitations, additions or modifications to such arrangements, regulations or policies could have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition and operating results. Additionally, a change in law, regulation or policy for any of the Company's international routes, such as Open Skies, 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. 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 obtaining other applicable foreign government clearances or satisfying the necessary 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.
We are subject to many forms of environmental regulation and liability and risks associated with climate change, and may incur substantial costs as a result.
Many aspects of the Company's operations are subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and international laws protecting the environment, including those relating to emissions to the air, water discharges, safe drinking water, the use and management of hazardous materials and wastes, and noise emissions. Compliance with existing and future environmental laws and regulations can require significant expenditures and violations can lead to significant fines and penalties. In addition, from time to time we are identified as a responsible party for environmental investigation and remediation costs under applicable environmental laws due to the disposal of hazardous substances generated by our operations. We could also be subject to environmental liability claims from various parties, including airport authorities, related to our operations at our owned or leased premises or the off-site disposal of waste generated at our facilities.
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We may incur substantial costs as a result of changes in weather patterns due to climate change. Increases in the frequency, severity or duration of severe weather events such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, flooding, typhoons, tornados and other severe weather events could result in increases in delays and cancellations, turbulence-related injuries and fuel consumption to avoid such weather, any of which could result in significant loss of revenue and higher costs. In addition, 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 predict accurately the materiality of any potential losses or costs associated with the effects of climate change.
To mitigate climate change risks, CORSIA has been developed by ICAO, a UN specialized agency. CORSIA is intended to create a single global market-based measure to achieve carbon-neutral growth for international aviation after 2020 through airline purchases of carbon offset credits. The voluntary pilot and first phases of the program are expected to run from 2021 through 2023, and 2024 through 2026, respectively, with airlines having until January 2025 to cancel eligible emissions units to comply with their total offsetting requirements for the pilot phase. Certain CORSIA program aspects could potentially be affected by the results of the pilot phase of the program, and thus the impact of CORSIA cannot be fully predicted. However, CORSIA is expected to result in increased operating costs for airlines that operate internationally, including the Company.
In addition to CORSIA, in December 2020 the EPA adopted its own aircraft and aircraft engine GHG emissions standards, which are aligned with the 2017 ICAO airplane carbon dioxide emission standards. Other jurisdictions in which United operates have adopted or are considering GHG emissions reduction initiatives, which could impact various aspects of the Company's business. While the Company has voluntarily pledged to reduce 100% of our GHG emissions by 2050, 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 would likely be adverse and could be significant if they vary significantly from the Company's own plans and strategy with respect to reducing GHG emissions.
See Part I, Item 1. Business—Industry Regulation—Environmental Regulation, of this report for additional information on environmental regulation impacting the Company.
Continued restrictions on the use of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and the inability to accept or integrate new aircraft into our fleet as planned, may have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
On March 13, 2019, the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting the operation of Boeing 737 MAX series aircraft by U.S. certificated operators (the "FAA Order"). As a result, the Company grounded all 14 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in its fleet, and Boeing also suspended deliveries of new Boeing 737 MAX series aircraft. On November 18, 2020, the FAA announced that it had rescinded the FAA Order and cleared the 737 MAX aircraft to fly again after a 20-month review and certification process. While several countries, following the FAA's lead, have lifted the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, other countries have delayed their expected approval of the aircraft until later in 2021. There are also many countries, such as China, that have no current plans to lift the aircraft's grounding and may not do so in the foreseeable future.
In 2019, the grounding affected the delivery of 16 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that were scheduled for delivery in 2019 and were not delivered, and it also affected the timing of future Boeing 737 MAX aircraft deliveries, including the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft of which the Company planned to take delivery in 2020. The extent of the delay of future deliveries is expected to be impacted by Boeing's production rate and the pace at which Boeing can deliver aircraft, among other factors, and these factors have been and could continue to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If, for any reason, we are unable to accept deliveries of new aircraft or integrate such new aircraft into our fleet as planned, we may face higher financing and operating costs than planned, or be required to seek extensions of the terms for certain leased aircraft or otherwise delay the exit of other aircraft from our fleet. Such unanticipated extensions or delays may require us to operate existing aircraft beyond the point at which it is economically optimal to retire them, resulting in increased maintenance costs, or reductions to our schedule, thereby reducing revenues.
In response to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the Company made adjustments to its flight schedule and operations, including substituting replacement aircraft on routes originally intended to be flown by Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In 2019 and early 2020, the grounding impacted the Company's ability to implement its strategic growth strategy, reducing the Company's scheduled capacity from its planned capacity, and resulted in increased costs as well as lower operating revenue. Continued restrictions on the use of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in other countries could impact the aircraft's optimal use in our network. Furthermore, in 2021, like 2020, demand has been, and is expected to continue to be, significantly impacted by COVID-19, which, in addition to the previous grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, has materially disrupted the timely execution of our plans to add capacity in 2021. The Company had discussions with Boeing regarding compensation from Boeing for the Company's financial damages related to the grounding of the airline's Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and in March 2020, the Company entered into a confidential settlement with Boeing with respect to compensation for financial damages incurred in 2019. The settlement agreement was amended and restated in June 2020 to provide for the settlement of additional
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items related to aircraft delivery and to update the scheduled delivery for substantially all undelivered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
Risks Relating to Our Indebtedness
The Company has a significant amount of financial leverage from fixed obligations and may seek material amounts of additional financial liquidity in the short-term, 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 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 and used aircraft and related spare engines.
In addition, in response to the travel restrictions and advisories, decreased demand and other effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to have on the Company's business, the Company may continue to seek material amounts of additional financial liquidity in the short-term, which may include additional drawings of loans under the Loan Program of the CARES Act, the issuance of additional unsecured or secured debt securities, equity securities and equity-linked securities, the sale of assets as well as additional bilateral and syndicated secured and/or unsecured credit facilities, among other items.
There can be no assurance as to the timing of any such incurrence or issuance, which may be in the near term, or that any such additional financing will be completed on favorable terms, or at all. As of December 31, 2020, we had total long-term debt of $26.7 billion, approximately $7.0 billion available for borrowing under the Loan Program under the CARES Act and $1.0 billion available for borrowing under our revolving credit facility.
The Company's substantial level of indebtedness, the Company's non-investment grade credit ratings and the availability of Company assets as collateral for loans or other indebtedness, which available collateral has been reduced as a result of CARES Act Loan Program borrowings, may make it difficult for the Company to raise additional capital if needed to meet its liquidity needs on acceptable terms, or at all.
Although the Company's cash flows from operations and its available capital, including the proceeds from financing transactions, have been sufficient to meet its obligations and commitments to date, the Company's liquidity has been, and may in the future be, negatively affected by the risk factors discussed elsewhere in this Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors, including risks related to future results arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. If the Company's liquidity is materially diminished, the Company's cash flow available for general corporate purposes may be materially and adversely affected. In particular, with respect to the $6.8 billion of senior secured notes and a secured term loan facility (the "MileagePlus Financing") secured by substantially all of the assets of Mileage Plus Holdings, LLC, a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of United ("MPH"), and Mileage Plus Intellectual Property Assets, Ltd., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of MPH ("MIPA"), the cash flows generated by the MileagePlus business are required to first satisfy interest and principal due thereunder. Therefore, the cash generated by the MileagePlus program is not fully available for our operations or to satisfy our other indebtedness obligations for the seven-year term of the MileagePlus Financing debt. This limitation on our cash flows could have a material adverse effect on our operations and flexibility.
A material reduction in the Company's liquidity could also result in the Company not being 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. Moreover, as a result of the Company's financing activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of financings with respect to which such covenants and provisions apply has increased, thereby subjecting the Company to more substantial risk of default, cross-default and cross-acceleration in the event of breach, and additional covenants and provisions could become binding on the Company as it continues to seek additional liquidity. In addition, several of the Company's debt agreements contain covenants that, among other things, restrict the ability of the Company and its subsidiaries to incur additional indebtedness. The Company has agreements with financial institutions that process customer credit card transactions for the sale of air travel and other services. Under certain of the Company's credit card processing agreements, the financial institutions in certain circumstances have the right to require that the Company maintain a reserve equal to a portion (or potentially all) of advance ticket sales that have been processed by that financial institution, but for which the Company has not yet provided the air transportation. Such financial institutions may require cash or other collateral reserves to be established or withholding of payments related to receivables to be collected, including if the Company does not maintain certain minimum levels of unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. In light of the effect COVID-19 is having on demand and, in turn, capacity, the Company has seen an increase in demand from consumers for refunds on their tickets, and we anticipate some level of increased demand for refunds on tickets will continue to be the case for the near future. Refunds lower our liquidity and put us at risk of triggering liquidity covenants in these processing agreements and, in doing so, could force us to post cash collateral with the credit card companies for advance ticket sales. The Company
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also maintains certain insurance- and surety-related agreements under which counterparties have required, and may require, additional collateral.
In addition to the foregoing, the degree to which we are leveraged could have important consequences to holders of our securities, including the following:
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;
our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in the markets in which we compete may be limited;
we may be at a competitive disadvantage relative to our competitors with less indebtedness;
we are rendered more vulnerable to general adverse economic and industry conditions;
we are exposed to increased interest rate risk given that a portion of our indebtedness obligations are at variable interest rates; and
our credit ratings may be reduced and our debt and equity securities may significantly decrease in value.
Finally, as of December 31, 2020, the Company had $9.5 billion in variable rate indebtedness, all or a portion of which uses London interbank offered rates ("LIBOR") as a benchmark for establishing applicable rates. As most recently announced in November 30, 2020, LIBOR is expected to be phased out starting on January 1, 2022 for the one-week and two-month USD LIBOR settings and starting on July 1, 2023 for the remaining USD LIBOR settings. Although many of our LIBOR-based obligations provide for alternative methods of calculating the interest rate payable if LIBOR is not reported, the extent and manner of any future changes with respect to methods of calculating LIBOR or replacing LIBOR with another benchmark are unknown and impossible to predict at this time and, as such, may result in interest rates that are materially higher than current interest rates. If interest rates applicable to the Company's variable interest indebtedness increase, the Company's interest expense will also increase, which could make it difficult for the Company to make interest payments and fund other fixed costs and, in turn, adversely impact our cash flow available for general corporate purposes.
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 as of December 31, 2020.
If we are not able to comply with the covenants in the MileagePlus Financing agreements, our lenders could accelerate the MileagePlus indebtedness, foreclose upon the collateral securing the MileagePlus indebtedness or exercise other remedies, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The covenants in the agreements governing the MileagePlus Financing contain a number of provisions that limit our ability to modify aspects of the MileagePlus program if such modifications would be reasonably expected to have a material adverse effect on the MileagePlus program or on our ability to pay the obligations under the MileagePlus Financing agreements. Moreover, the terms of such agreements also place certain restrictions on our establishing or owning another mileage or loyalty program and our ability to make material modifications to our agreements with certain MileagePlus partners. Furthermore, the MileagePlus Financing may also negatively affect certain material business relationships, and if any such relationship were to be materially impaired and/or terminated, we could experience a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The agreements governing the MileagePlus Financing restrict our ability to terminate or modify the intercompany agreements governing the relationship between United and the MileagePlus program, including the agreement governing the rate that United must pay MPH for the purchase of miles and United's obligation to make certain seat inventory available to MPH for redemption. Such restrictions are in addition to restrictions on the ability of the obligors under the MileagePlus indebtedness to make restricted payments, incur additional indebtedness, dispose of, create or incur certain liens on, or transfer or convey, the collateral securing the MileagePlus indebtedness, enter into certain transactions with affiliates, merge, consolidate, or sell assets, or designate certain subsidiaries as unrestricted. Complying with these covenants may restrict our ability to make material changes to the operation of the MPH business and may limit our ability to take advantage of business opportunities that may be in our long-term interest. We may also take actions, or omit to take actions, to comply with such covenants that could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Our failure to comply with any of these covenants or restrictions could result in a default under the agreements governing the MileagePlus Financing, which could lead to an acceleration of the debt under such instruments and, in some cases, the acceleration of debt under other instruments that contain cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions, each of which could have a material adverse effect on us. In the case of an event of default under the agreements governing the MileagePlus Financing agreements, or a cross-default or cross-acceleration under our other indebtedness, we may not have sufficient funds available to make the required payments. If we are unable to repay amounts owed under the agreements governing the
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MileagePlus Financing, the lenders or noteholders thereunder may choose to exercise their remedies in respect of the collateral securing such indebtedness, including foreclosing upon the MileagePlus collateral, in which case we would lose the right to operate the MileagePlus program thereafter. The exercise of such remedies, especially the loss of the MileagePlus program, would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
In connection with the MileagePlus Financing, we were required to contribute certain assets, including certain MileagePlus intellectual property, including brands and member data, to Mileage Plus Intellectual Property Assets, Ltd., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of MPH structured to be bankruptcy remote that serves as a co-issuer of the MileagePlus Financing indebtedness, the assets of which subsidiary are collateral for such indebtedness. United and MPH will have the right to use the contributed intellectual property pursuant to a license agreement with MIPA. Such license agreement will be terminated, and our right to use such intellectual property will cease, upon specified termination events, including, but not limited to, our failure to assume the license agreement and various related intercompany agreements in a restructuring process. The termination of the license agreement would be an event of default under the agreements governing the MileagePlus Financing and in certain circumstances would trigger a liquidated damages payment in an amount that is several multiples of the principal amount of the MileagePlus Financing debt. Thus, the terms of the MileagePlus Financing limit our flexibility to manage our capital structure going forward, and as a result, in the future 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.
Agreements governing our other debt include financial and other covenants. Failure to comply with these covenants could result in events of default.
In addition to the covenants in the MileagePlus Financing agreements discussed above, our other 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. These covenants are subject to important exceptions and qualifications. 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 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.
General Risk Factors
If we experience changes in, or are unable to retain, our senior management team or other key employees, our operating results could be adversely affected.
Much of our future success depends on the continued availability of skilled personnel with industry experience and knowledge, including our senior management team and other key employees. If we are unable to attract and retain talented, highly qualified senior management and other key employees, or if we are unable to effectively provide for the succession of senior management, our business may be adversely affected.
Current or future litigation and regulatory actions, or failure to comply with the terms of any settlement, order or arrangement relating to these actions, could have a material adverse impact on the Company.
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. 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
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could be required to indemnify and advance expenses to them in connection with their involvement in certain actions, suits, investigations and other proceedings. There can be no assurance that any of these payments will not be material.
Increases in insurance costs or inadequate insurance coverage may materially and adversely impact our business, operating results and financial condition.
The Company could be exposed to significant liability or loss if its property or operations were to be affected by a natural catastrophe or other event, including aircraft accidents. 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 operations, operating results and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.
None.
ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES.
Fleet. As of December 31, 2020, United's mainline and regional fleets consisted of the following:
Aircraft TypeTotalOwnedLeasedSeats in Standard Configuration Average Age
(In Years)
Mainline: 
777-300ER22 22 — 350 3.0 
777-200ER55 52 267-27620.8 
777-20019 19 — 364 23.5 
787-1013 13 — 318 1.6 
787-935 28 252 3.6 
787-812 12 — 219 7.5 
767-400ER16 14 240 19.3 
767-300ER38 30 167-21424.9 
757-30021 12 234 18.3 
757-20040 35 142-17623.9 
737 MAX 922 14 179 1.5 
737-900ER136 136 — 179 8.0 
737-90012 179 19.3 
737-800141 97 44 166 16.8 
737-70049 37 12 126 20.7 
A320-20096 78 18 150 22.3 
A319-10085 56 29 126-12818.9 
Total mainline812 660 152 16.0 
In addition to the aircraft presented in the table above, United owned or leased, as of December 31, 2020, eleven Boeing 757-200s, three Airbus A319s, three Airbus A320s and one Boeing 767-200 that are not used in its operations.
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Aircraft TypeTotalOwnedOwned or Leased by Regional Carrier Regional Carrier Operator and Number of AircraftSeats in Standard Configuration
Regional:  
Embraer E175/E175LL190 91 99 SkyWest:
Mesa:
Republic:
90
72
28
70 (a)
Embraer 17038 — 38 Republic:38 70 
CRJ70027 — 27 Mesa:
SkyWest:
8
19
70 
CRJ55038 — 38 GoJet:38 50 
CRJ200133 — 133 SkyWest:
Air Wisconsin:
70
63
50 
Embraer ERJ 145 (XR/LR)49 49 — CommutAir:49 50 
Total regional475 140 335 
(a) In 2020, the Company temporarily modified all 76-seat aircraft to have a 70-seat configuration as agreed upon in the Pandemic Recovery Agreement between the Company and its pilots.
In addition to the aircraft presented in the table above, United owned or leased the following regional aircraft as of December 31, 2020:
Four Embraer E175LLs, which were delivered but not yet in service;
119 Embraer ERJ 145s currently in storage with several aircraft scheduled to be inducted into CommutAir's fleet throughout 2021 and 2022; and
12 CRJ700s that are being transitioned between CPAs and for which United continues to make monthly payments.

Firm Order and Option Aircraft. As of December 31, 2020 (adjusted to include the effects of the February 26, 2021 agreement with Boeing discussed below), United had firm commitments and options to purchase new aircraft from Boeing, Airbus and Embraer as presented in the table below:
Scheduled Aircraft Deliveries
Aircraft TypeNumber of Firm
Commitments (a)
20212022After 2022
Airbus A321XLR50 — — 50 
Airbus A35045 — — 45 
Boeing 737 MAX188 21 40 127 
Boeing 78711 11 — — 
Embraer E175— — 
(a) United also has options and purchase rights for additional aircraft.
On February 26, 2021, the Company entered into an agreement with The Boeing Company ("Boeing") for a firm order of 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery in 2023, and to reschedule the delivery of 40 previously ordered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to 2022 and 5 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into 2023.
The aircraft listed in the table above are scheduled for delivery through 2030. To the extent the Company and the aircraft manufacturers with which the Company has existing orders for new aircraft agree to modify the contracts governing those orders, the amount and timing of the Company's future capital commitments could change. United also has an agreement to purchase 11 used Boeing 737-700 aircraft with expected delivery dates in 2021. In addition, United has an agreement to purchase 17 used Airbus A319 aircraft, which it intends to sell, with expected delivery dates in 2021 and 2022.
See Notes 10 and 13 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, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, LAX, Denver, Newark, Houston Bush and Guam with expiration dates ranging from 2021 through 2053. Substantially all of these facilities are leased on a net-rental basis, resulting in the Company's 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 2030 through 2033, for its principal executive office and operations center in downtown Chicago and administrative offices in downtown Houston.
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ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.
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 intends to vigorously defend against the class action lawsuits.
On October 13, 2015, United received a CID from the Civil Division of the DOJ. The CID requested documents and oral testimony from United in connection with an industry-wide DOJ investigation related to delivery scan and other data purportedly required for payment for the carriage of mail under United's International Commercial Air Contracts with the U.S. Postal Service. The Company has been responding to the DOJ's request and cooperating in the investigation since that time. On November 8, 2016, the DOJ Criminal Division met with representatives from the Company and advised they are conducting an industry-wide investigation into the same matter. In February 2021, United entered into a settlement with the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the DOJ, pursuant to which the Company agreed to pay $49.5 million. In conjunction with these settlements, United entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Criminal Division of the DOJ.
Other Legal Proceedings. The Company is involved in various other claims and legal actions involving passengers, customers, suppliers, employees and government agencies arising in the ordinary course of business. 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. After considering a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the views of legal counsel, the nature of contingencies to which the Company is subject and prior experience, management believes that the ultimate disposition of these other claims and legal actions will not materially affect its consolidated financial position or results of operations. However, the ultimate resolutions of these matters are inherently unpredictable. 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.

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.
UAL's common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market ("Nasdaq") under the symbol "UAL." As of February 24, 2021, there were 5,989 holders of record of UAL common stock.
The following graph shows the cumulative total stockholder return for UAL's common stock during the period from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020. The graph also shows the cumulative returns of the Standard and Poor's 500 Index ("SPX") and the NYSE Arca Airline Index ("XAL") of 15 investor-owned airlines over the same five-year period. The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2015 in each of UAL common stock, the SPX and the XAL.
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https://cdn.kscope.io/62b74b78d6c28032cdfa9b77f1bf1b3e-ual-20201231_g2.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.
The following table presents repurchases of UAL common stock made in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020:
PeriodTotal number of
shares purchased
Average price paid
per share
Total number of shares purchased as part of publicly announced plans or programs (a)Maximum number of shares (or approximate dollar value) of shares that may yet be purchased under the plans or programs
October 2020— $— — $— 
November 2020— — — — 
December 2020— — — — 
Total— — 
(a) On April 24, 2020, UAL's Board of Directors terminated its share repurchase program. Under the Payroll Support Program agreements and Loan Program, the Company and its business are subject to certain restrictions, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the ability to repurchase UAL's equity securities through September 26, 2026 (or such earlier date that is one year after repayment in full of the Term Loan Facility).
ITEM 6.    SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA.        
UAL's consolidated financial statements and statistical data are provided in the tables below:
Year Ended December 31,
20202019201820172016
Income Statement Data (in millions, except per share amounts):
Operating revenue$15,355 $43,259 $41,303 $37,784 $36,558 
Operating expense21,714 38,958 38,074 34,166 32,214 
Operating income (loss)(6,359)4,301 3,229 3,618 4,344 
Net income (loss)(7,069)3,009 2,122 2,143 2,234 
Basic earnings (loss) per share(25.30)11.63 7.70 7.08 6.77 
Diluted earnings (loss) per share(25.30)11.58 7.67 7.06 6.76 
Balance Sheet Data at December 31 (in millions):
Unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments$11,683 $4,944 $3,950 $3,798 $4,428 
Total assets59,548 52,611 49,024 47,469 40,208 
Debt and finance lease obligations 27,153 14,818 13,792 13,576 11,705 
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 Year Ended December 31,
20202019201820172016
Select operating statistics (a)
Passengers (thousands) (b)
57,761162,443158,330148,067143,177
Revenue passenger miles ("RPMs") (millions) (c)
73,883239,360230,155216,261210,309
Available seat miles ("ASMs") (millions) (d)
122,804284,999275,262262,386253,590
Cargo revenue ton miles (millions) (e)
2,7113,3293,4253,3162,805
Passenger load factor (f)
60.2%84.0%83.6%82.4%82.9%
Passenger revenue per available seat mile ("PRASM") (cents)9.6113.9013.7013.1313.18
Total revenue per available seat mile ("TRASM") (cents)12.5015.1815.0014.4014.42
Average yield per revenue passenger mile ("Yield") (cents) (g)
15.9816.5516.3815.9315.90
Cost per available seat mile ("CASM") (cents)17.6813.6713.8313.0212.70
Average price per gallon of fuel, including fuel taxes$1.57$2.09$2.25$1.74$1.49
Fuel gallons consumed (millions)2,0044,2924,1373,9783,904
Average stage length (miles) (h)
1,3071,4601,4461,4601,473
Employee headcount, as of December 31 (thousands)74.495.991.789.887.8
(a) Includes data from our regional carriers operating under CPAs unless otherwise noted.
(b) The number of revenue passengers measured by each flight segment flown.
(c) The number of scheduled miles flown by revenue passengers.
(d) The number of seats available for passengers multiplied by the number of scheduled miles those seats are flown.
(e) The number of cargo revenue tons transported multiplied by the number of miles flown.
(f) RPM divided by ASM.
(g) The average passenger revenue received for each revenue passenger mile flown.
(h) Average stage length equals the average distance a flight travels weighted for size of aircraft.
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ITEM 7.    MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS.
Overview
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "UAL" or the "Company") is a holding company and its principal, 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 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.
Impact of COVID-19 and Outlook
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, together with the measures implemented or recommended by governmental authorities and private organizations in response to the pandemic, has had an adverse impact that has been material to the Company's business, operating results, financial condition and liquidity. The Company began experiencing a significant decline in international and domestic demand related to COVID-19 during the first quarter of 2020. The decline in demand caused a material deterioration in our revenues in 2020, resulting in a net loss of $7.1 billion. The full extent of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the Company's longer-term operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including those outside our control related to the efficacy and speed of vaccination programs in curbing the spread of the virus, the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus which may be resistant to currently approved vaccines, passenger testing requirements, mask mandates or other restrictions on travel, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with certainty.
In response to decreased demand, the Company cut, relative to 2019 capacity, approximately 57% of its scheduled capacity for 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the Company expects scheduled capacity to be down at least 51% versus the first quarter of 2019. The Company plans to continue to proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand and expects demand to remain suppressed, relative to 2019 levels, until vaccines for COVID-19 are widely distributed and are effective in curbing the spread of the virus. In addition, the Company does not currently expect the recovery from COVID-19 to follow a linear path. As such, the Company's actual flown capacity may differ materially from its currently scheduled capacity.
The Company has taken a number of actions in response to the decreased demand for air travel. In addition to the schedule reductions discussed above, the Company has:
reduced its planned capital expenditures and reduced operating expenditures in 2020 (including by postponing projects deemed non-critical to the Company's operations);
terminated its share repurchase program;
issued or entered into approximately $13.4 billion in new secured notes, secured term loan facilities and new aircraft financings in 2020, including short term borrowings that were paid in 2020;
borrowed $1.0 billion under the $2.0 billion revolving credit facility established under the Amended and Restated Credit and Guaranty Agreement (the "Credit Agreement");
availed itself of financial assistance and/or financing made available by the U.S. Treasury Department ("Treasury"), as further described below;
raised approximately $2.1 billion in cash proceeds from the issuance and sale of UAL common stock in 2020;
entered into agreements to finance certain aircraft currently subject to purchase agreements through sale and leaseback transactions;
elected to defer the payment of $199 million in payroll taxes incurred through December 31, 2020, as provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act"), until December 2021, at which time 50% is due, with the remaining amount due December 2022; and
taken a number of actions to reduce employee-related costs, including, among other items, the Company's Chief Executive Officer and President waived 100% of their respective base salaries through the end of 2020, other officers temporarily waived a portion of their base salaries, the Company's non-employee directors waived 100% of their cash
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compensation for the second and third quarters of 2020, the Company suspended merit salary increases for 2020 and implemented a temporary four-day work week for management and administrative employees and the Company offered voluntary unpaid leaves of absence. The Company also entered into an agreement with its pilots to distribute fewer flight hours to a larger number of pilots, while also reaching agreements to provide a path to early retirement and reduce expense through voluntary leave of absence programs.
In addition, and as announced in July 2020, the Company started the involuntary furlough process by issuing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification ("WARN") Act notices to 36,000 of its employees. Since then, the Company worked to reduce the total number of furloughs to approximately 13,000 employees by working closely with its union partners, introducing new voluntary options selected by approximately 9,000 employees and proposing creative solutions that would save jobs. As a result of the Company's entry into the PSP2 Agreement, as described below, the Company issued recall notices to these furloughed employees and others impacted by furlough mitigation programs. See the discussion below for more detail about the PSP2 Agreement and the recall process.
The Company continues to focus on reducing expenses and managing its liquidity. We expect to continue to modify our cost management structure and capacity as the timing of demand recovery becomes more certain.
On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed the CARES Act into law. The CARES Act is intended to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The CARES Act also provides supplemental appropriations for federal agencies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 20, 2020, United entered into a Payroll Support Program Agreement (the "PSP Agreement") with Treasury providing the Company with total funding of approximately $5.1 billion pursuant to the Payroll Support Program established under the CARES Act. These funds were used to pay for the wages, salaries and benefits of United employees. Approximately $3.6 billion of the $5.1 billion was provided as a direct grant, and approximately $1.5 billion consists of indebtedness evidenced by a 10-year senior unsecured promissory note issued by UAL to Treasury (the "PSP Note"). See Note 2 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information related to warrants issued in connection with the PSP Note and Note 10 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for a discussion of the PSP Note.
During 2020, UAL and United entered into a loan and guarantee agreement with Treasury. The agreement provides for a term loan facility of up to approximately $7.5 billion (the "CARES Act Term Loan Facility") pursuant to the loan program established under Section 4003(b)(1) of the CARES Act (the "Loan Program"). The loans (the "CARES Act Term Loans") may be disbursed in up to three disbursements on or before May 28, 2021. On September 28, 2020, United borrowed, and recorded as Long-term debt on the Company's consolidated balance sheet, $520 million under the CARES Act Term Loan Facility, the proceeds of which were used to pay certain transaction fees and expenses and for working capital and other general corporate purposes of the Company. See Note 2 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for a discussion on warrants issued in connection with the CARES Act Term Loans and Note 10 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for a discussion of the CARES Act Term Loans.
Under the PSP Agreement and the Loan Program, the Company and its business are subject to certain restrictions, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the payment of dividends and the ability to repurchase UAL's equity securities, requirements to maintain certain levels of scheduled service and certain limitations on executive compensation.
On January 15, 2021, United entered into a Payroll Support Agreement (the "PSP2 Agreement") with Treasury providing the Company with total funding of approximately $2.6 billion, pursuant to the Payroll Support Program established under Subtitle A of Title IV of Division N of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the "PSP Extension Law"). These funds were used to pay for the wages, salaries and benefits of United employees, including the payment of lost wages, salaries and benefits to returning employees. Approximately $1.9 billion was provided as a direct grant and approximately $753 million consists of indebtedness evidenced by a 10-year senior unsecured promissory note issued by UAL to Treasury (the "PSP2 Note"). As of February 25, 2021, we have received a total of $1.3 billion. See Note 2 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information on warrants issued in connection with the PSP2 Note and Note 10 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for a discussion of the PSP2 Note.
Pursuant to the PSP2 Agreement, the Company is required to comply with certain provisions of the PSP Extension Law, including, among others, the requirement that all funds provided under the Payroll Support Program will be used by United exclusively for the continuation of payment of its U.S. employee wages, salaries and benefits, including the payment of lost wages, salaries and benefits to returning U.S. employees; requirements to maintain U.S. employment levels from the date of the PSP2 Agreement through March 31, 2021; requirements to recall (as such term is defined in the PSP2 Agreement), any U.S. employees subject to involuntary termination or furlough between October 1, 2020 and the date of the PSP2 Agreement,
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compensate such returning employees for certain lost salary, wages and benefits between December 1, 2020 and the date of the PSP2 Agreement and restore certain rights and protections for such returning employees; provisions prohibiting certain reductions in U.S. employee wages, salaries and benefits; provisions prohibiting the payment of dividends and the repurchase of certain equity until March 31, 2022; and provisions restricting the payment of certain executive compensation until October 1, 2022.
As a result of the PSP2 Agreement, the Company offered employment, through March 2021, to employees who were impacted by involuntary furloughs. Because the Company cannot predict with certainty whether it will receive further payroll support from the federal government or when demand for air travel will increase in the short term, the Company is preparing for the possibility that these recalled employees might again be furloughed as soon as the end of the first quarter of 2021. The Company may record additional costs associated with these actions in the first quarter of 2021. Also, in order to reduce the number of such furloughs, during the first quarter of 2021, the Company offered voluntary leave and other programs to certain of its frontline employees, the cost of which cannot be estimated at this time.
Results of Operations
The following discussion provides an analysis of our results of operations and reasons for material changes therein for 2020 as compared to 2019. See "Results of Operations" in Part II, Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in the Company's 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on February 25, 2020 (the "2019 Annual Report"), for analysis of the 2019 results as compared to 2018.
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):
20202019Increase (Decrease)% Change
Passenger revenue$11,805 $39,625 $(27,820)(70.2)
Cargo1,648 1,179 469 39.8 
Other operating revenue1,902 2,455 (553)(22.5)
Total operating revenue$15,355 $43,259 $(27,904)(64.5)
The table below presents passenger revenue and select operating data of the Company, broken out by geographic region, expressed as year-over-year changes:
Increase (decrease) from 2019:
DomesticAtlanticPacific
Latin
Total
Passenger revenue (in millions)$(16,717)$(5,326)$(3,546)$(2,231)$(27,820)
Passenger revenue(67.4)%(77.9)%(79.4)%(63.4)%(70.2)%
Average fare per passenger(11.7)%0.1 %3.6 %(7.8)%(16.2)%
Yield(7.0)%(9.0)%11.5 %(1.9)%(3.4)%
PRASM(31.0)%(44.8)%(27.0)%(24.1)%(30.9)%
Passengers(63.1)%(77.9)%(80.1)%(60.3)%(64.4)%
RPMs (traffic)(64.9)%(75.7)%(81.5)%(62.7)%(69.1)%
ASMs (capacity)(52.8)%(59.9)%(71.8)%(51.8)%(56.9)%
Passenger load factor (points)(22.0)(32.5)(27.9)(19.2)(23.8)
Note: See Part II, Item 6. Selected Financial Data, of this report for the definition of these statistics.
Passenger revenue decreased $27.8 billion, or 70.2%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to the decrease in demand for air travel as a result of the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the associated shelter-in-place directives and travel restrictions. Earlier in 2020, the Company suspended change fees and effective August 30, 2020, the Company eliminated change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also, in December 2020, the Company eliminated change fees on flights from the U.S. to all international destinations and fees on Basic Economy and all other international travel tickets issued by March 31, 2021. The elimination of change fees and waivers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in change fee revenue declining $542 million in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Cargo revenue increased $469 million, or 39.8%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to an increase in cargo-only charter flights with higher yields as a result of increased demand for critical goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Other operating revenue decreased $553 million, or 22.5%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to a decline in mileage revenue from non-airline partners, including the co-branded credit card partner, Chase, and lower revenue from airport lounges due to United Club closures and fewer overall customers utilizing these lounges.
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):
20202019Increase (Decrease)% Change
Salaries and related costs$9,522 $12,071 $(2,549)(21.1)
Aircraft fuel3,153 8,953 (5,800)(64.8)
Depreciation and amortization2,488 2,288 200 8.7 
Landing fees and other rent2,127 2,543 (416)(16.4)
Regional capacity purchase2,039 2,849 (810)(28.4)
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs858 1,794 (936)(52.2)
Distribution expenses459 1,651 (1,192)(72.2)
Aircraft rent198 288 (90)(31.3)
Special charges (credit)(2,616)246 (2,862)NM
Other operating expenses3,486 6,275 (2,789)(44.4)
Total operating expenses$21,714 $38,958 $(17,244)(44.3)
Salaries and related costs decreased $2.5 billion, or 21.1%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to a 22.4% reduction in employees resulting from voluntary separation programs and furloughs caused by COVID-19, $623 million lower profit sharing and other employee incentives due to the impact of COVID-19 on 2020 results and $180 million in tax credits provided by the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act in 2020.
Aircraft fuel expense decreased $5.8 billion, or 64.8%, in 2020 as compared to 2019. 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):
20202019%
Change
Fuel expense$3,153 $8,953 (64.8)
Total fuel consumption (gallons)2,004 4,292 (53.3)
Average price per gallon$1.57 $2.09 (24.9)
Depreciation and amortization increased $200 million, or 8.7%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to additions of aircraft, upgrades to aircraft interiors and completion of technology projects.
Landing fees and other rent decreased $416 million, or 16.4%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to reduced flying. A portion of other rents, especially at airport facilities, is fixed in nature and is not impacted by the reduction in flights.
Regional capacity purchase costs decreased $810 million, or 28.4%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to reduced regional flying as a result of COVID-19 and reduced rates under certain capacity purchase agreements.
Aircraft maintenance materials and outside repairs decreased $936 million, or 52.2%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to a reduction in airframe checks, engine overhauls, expenses associated with power-by-the-hour engine maintenance contracts and line maintenance due to reduced flying.
Distribution expenses decreased $1.2 billion, or 72.2%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, as a result of the overall decrease in passenger revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aircraft rent decreased $90 million, or 31.3%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to the purchase of leased aircraft.
The table below presents special charges (credit) recorded by the Company during the years ended December 31 (in millions):
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20202019
CARES Act grant$(3,536)$— 
Severance and benefit costs575 16 
Impairment of assets318 171 
(Gains) losses on sale of assets and other special charges27 59 
Total special charges$(2,616)$246 
See Note 14 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Other operating expenses decreased $2.8 billion, or 44.4%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our catering, airport ground handling, navigation fees, technology projects, advertising and crew-related expenses.
Nonoperating Income (Expense). The following table illustrates the year-over-year dollar and percentage changes in the Company's nonoperating income (expense) for the years ended December 31 (in millions, except percentage changes):
20202019Increase (Decrease)% Change
Interest expense$(1,063)$(731)$332 45.4 
Interest capitalized71 85 (14)(16.5)
Interest income50 133 (83)(62.4)
Unrealized gains (losses) on investments, net(194)153 (347)NM
Miscellaneous, net (1,327)(27)1,300 NM
Total nonoperating expense, net$(2,463)$(387)$2,076 NM
Interest expense increased $332 million, or 45.4%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to the issuance of new debt in 2020 to provide additional liquidity to the Company during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interest income decreased $83 million, or 62.4%, in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to a decrease in interest rates.
Unrealized gains (losses) on investments, net decreased $347 million in 2020 as compared to 2019, due to $194 million in losses in 2020 as compared to $153 million in gains in the year-ago period, primarily as a result of a decrease in the market value of the Company's equity investment in Azul and a decrease in the fair value of the Avianca Holdings S.A. ("AVH") share call options, AVH share appreciation rights and AVH share-based upside sharing agreement. See Notes 9 and 14 to the financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this report for additional information.
Miscellaneous, net increased $1.3 billion in 2020 as compared to 2019, primarily due to credit loss allowances associated with the Company's Term Loan Agreement, with, among others, BRW Aviation Holding LLC and BRW Aviation LLC, and related guarantee and settlement losses and special termination benefits related to furloughs and voluntary separation programs under the Company's non-pilot U.S. defined benefit pension plan and postretirement medical programs. See