United says Paris attacks hurting passenger traffic

United Continental says the Paris terror attacks have caused passenger revenue to fall.

United Continental says the Paris terror attacks have caused passenger revenue to fall.

(Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Chicago Tribune

United Continental said the recent terrorist attacks in Paris are putting a dent in passenger traffic.

The Chicago-based airline said the shootings and bombings that killed about 130 people last November in the French capital are among the factors expected to cause fourth-quarter passenger revenue to fall more than anticipated.

United also said corporate customers in the energy industry, which is in a downturn due to lower oil and gas prices, are cutting back on travel.

Also proof of softening demand, the company said: downward revisions to gross domestic product in the fourth quarter.


The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s new GDPNow forecasting model for real GDP growth in the fourth quarter was 0.8 percent as of Jan. 8, down from 1 percent on Jan. 6.

United said it now expects fourth-quarter 2015 passenger revenue to decline between 5.75 percent and 6.25 percent year-over-year. In October, it forecast a drop of 4 percent to 6 percent.

United provided the detail late Monday in its preliminary financial and operational outlook for the fourth quarter 2015 and full year 2015.

Separately, Delta surpassed United to become the second-biggest airline in terms of traffic in 2015. United had 208.6 billion in revenue passenger miles in 2015, compared with Delta’s 209.6 billion.

Last week Delta said passenger unit revenue in December fell 5 percent year over year, which it attributed to foreign exchange and the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday. It didn’t mention Paris. For the quarter, Delta said it expected passenger unit revenue to fall about 1.5 percent due to pressures from foreign exchange rates.

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