United Airlines shares were down over 1.5% in early market trading on Monday, after the air carrier announced that it will permanently cancel $200 flight ticket change fees for its customers who travel within the US. The move, which will take effect immediately aims to lure people to buy flights again, after travel was almost halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to scrapping the change of flights fee, United Airlines (UAL) also announced that “starting on January 1, 2021, any United customer can fly standby for free on a flight departing the day of their travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service, a first among U.S. carriers.” United’s CEO Scott Kirby stated that the company has become “the first US legacy airline to get rid of this fee for ever.” (See UAL stock analysis on TipRanks).
On July 21, United Airlines posted 2Q loss of $9.31 per share, larger than analysts’ loss expectations of $9.02 per share, driven by a plunge in air travel demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its revenue dropped 87% year-over-year to $1.48 billion, compared with analysts’ estimates of $1.32 billion.
Post its 2Q results, on July 25, UBS analyst Myles Walton maintained a Hold rating on the stock with a price target of $25 (32% downside potential). Walton views United’s stock as relatively weak, and trimmed his 2020 earnings estimate by 20% and raised his loss estimates for 2021 and 2022.
Currently, the Street has a cautiously optimistic outlook on the stock. The Moderate Buy analyst consensus is based on 5 Buys and 7 Holds. With shares down 58% year-to-date, the average price target of $42.7 implies upside potential of 16% to current levels.