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United Airlines SWOT & PESTLE Analysis

ID : 52478353| Apr 2020| 15 pages

COMPANY PROFILE -United Airlines

Business Sector :Aviation

Operating Geography :United States, Global

About United Airlines :

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It is the third largest airlines in the world with a mainline fleet size of 777 airliners and a service capacity to cater to 362 destination airports as of 2019. In late 2006 United Continental Holdings formerly UAL Corporations acquired Continental Airlines and decided to merge United Airlines and Continental Airlines. The company has an employee size of more than 96,000 as of 2020 and is also one of the five founding members of the Star Alliance.

United Airlines Revenue :

US $43.259 billion (FY ending December 31st 2019)
US $41.303 billion (FY ending December 31st 2018)
US $37.784 billion (FY ending December 31st 2017)

Ownership / Major shareholders :

As of June 2018, the major shareholders of the company are as follows –
1) PRIMECAP Management (14.04%)
2) Berkshire Hathaway (9.79%)
3) Vanguard Group (7.20%)

Competitive Analysis of United Airlines

The SWOT analysis of United Airlines is presented below:
1. One of the largest aircraft fleets
2. Wide serviceability and reach
3. Customer experience through loyalty program and member lounges
4. Strong brand image through marketing and strategic alliances with other airlines
5. Flexibility in fleet planning
1. Operational troubles because of merger of United and Continental Airlines
2. United’s leadership problems
3. Weak work culture
1. United has pledged to raise capacity as much as 6% in the US this year,
2. Segmentation to allow to compete for all potential customers
1. Losing market share to low cost carriers
2. Multiple public relations disaster
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Detailed SWOT Analysis of United Airlines



1. One of the largest aircraft fleets: United airlines operate more than 1300 aircrafts that includes both Mainline and Regional fleet and comes third only to its domestic competitors American Airlines and Delta Airlines in terms of total fleet size which is much more than other airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and others. In its fleet United Airlines deploy both Airbus and Boeing aircrafts with the latter contributing to approximately 80% of the total fleet size. With a total employee strength of 88,000 it takes second spot after American Airlines in terms of number of employees employed by an airline and churning out an industry benchmark employee to aircraft ratio of 67.7.

2. Wide serviceability and reach: United Airlines serves a total of 48 countries with a total of 362 destinations/airports across six continents. To cater to such a huge market space United Airlines has a total of 4900 daily departures and carried over 162 million people in 2019. According to Federal Aviation Administration of the US a total 926 million people flew in and out of US airports in 2019 out of which 17.5% were United Airlines passengers. To support the scale of this operation United Airlines operates seven hubs in the US in Washington DC, Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver and Chicago and five hubs to serve the international market are present in Frankfurt, Hongkong, London, Tokyo and Guam.

3. Customer experience through loyalty program and member lounges: United Airlines operates one of the most rewarding loyalty programs to provide a wide array of travel and retail partners. The airlines and the Star Alliance partners offers to take travelers to more than 1,100 destinations worldwide on its 28 member’s airlines. Besides the loyalty programs United Airlines operates their own airport lounges by the name of United Club, United Polaris Lounge and United Club First Lounge present in 78 airport locations worldwide with a vision to provide travelers with a tranquil travel experience from departure to landing. The United Polaris lounges are a first of its kind to provide specially curated services to international business class passengers also the United Polaris lounge has been ranked as the best business class lounge in the US, the company is also in process of operating more such lounges in the international sector.

4. Strong brand image through marketing and strategic alliances with other airlines: The parent body of United Airlines i.e. is United Continental Holding featured in the Fortune 500 companies for the year 2018 at 81st position up from 83rd rank in 2017, besides this the airlines has featured in the list for the past 24 consecutive years. The airline tries to provide a hospitable and friendly environment for the passengers and is working towards their shared purpose of “Connecting people and Uniting the world” by striving towards their motto for the passengers i.e. “Fly the friendly skies”. Five airlines back in 1997 created Star Alliance which was first of its kind of airlines alliance, the logo of Star Alliance with its five points signifying the founding members that are United Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Air Canada and Scandinavian Airline Systems. Today Star Alliance provides connectivity to more than 1300 airports served by its 28 alliance members.

5. Flexibility in fleet plan which can be leveraged in an economic downturn:During the economic downturn in 2009-09, United Airlines were among the major airlines to suffer from a string of losses. During the fourth quarter of Financial Year 2008-09 the UAL Corporation which is the parent body of United Airlines lost $1.3 Billion, losses mounted up to $9.91 per share which were up from 47 cents a year back and revenue contracted by 9.7% to $4.55 Billion. The operations of the United were severely hit as the passengers were very few and the planes were flying mostly empty without passengers because of which the Load Factor of the aviation industry in America fell well below industry average of 80%. This fall of load factor was majorly due to the improper fleet management of United Airlines which the company have learned from the past experience as around 120 aircrafts operated by United Airlines consist of flexible-fleet which loosely relates to in case of an economic downturn a fleet size of 120 aircrafts can be returned to the lessor to help United Airline become leaner and agile.


This section is available only in the 'Complete Report' on purchase.


This section is available only in the 'Complete Report' on purchase.


This section is available only in the 'Complete Report' on purchase.

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Check Out Analysis of Other Relevant Companies

References used in United Airlines Analysis Report

1. Years After United Merger, Flight Attendants Work for Two Airlines-

2. 5 years later, Continental-United merger still stirs strong feelings-

3. Budget Airline Ticket Prices-

4. Fixing United Airlines Culture Problem

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United Airlines SWOT & PESTLE Analysis - SWOT & PESTLE.COM

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Copyrights and Disclaimer

United Airlines SWOT and PESTLE analysis has been conducted by Deepanker Pandey and reviewed by senior analysts from Barakaat Consulting.

Copyright of United Airlines SWOT and PESTLE Analysis is the property of Barakaat Consulting. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions and Disclaimer for usage guidelines.

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