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United Airlines’ third-quarter profits were up over 20 percent from last year on “strong and steady” domestic demand and “record” international profits in some regions, the company reported Tuesday. But alongside the positive earnings results, the US airline giant warned its profits could be hit by higher fuel costs, and the prospect of a prolonged conflict in the Middle East. United’s shares fell more than 4.4 percent in after hours trading, as investors digested the results. Net income was $1.1 billion between July and September, up 20.7 percent from the same period last year, when sales were $942 million, the company announced in a filing. “Our strategy to diversify our revenue streams, capitalize on growth opportunities and constantly innovate to enhance our products for our customers is paying off,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “We remain on track to hit our financial targets,” he added. Total operating revenues were $14.5 billion for the same period last year, up 12.5 percent, while capacity was up 15.7 percent, according to the filing. Its adjusted earnings per share for the third quarter jumped to $3.65, up sharply from $2.81 for the same period in 2022. “United experienced a strong and steady domestic demand environment in the quarter, with 9% revenue growth year-over-year,” the company said. “In the international space, profits were at record highs in both the Atlantic and Pacific regions,” it added. Alongside its earnings result, the company also issued updated projections for growth this year,with two possible scenarios depending on the length of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. It expects total revenues to rise 10.5 percent year-on-year if flights to Tel Aviv remain suspended until the end of October, but only 9.0 percent if they are cancelled through year-end. United also predicted that average aircraft fuel costs would rise substantially in the fourth quarter, from $2.95 to $3.28 per gallon. The rising fuel costs are expected to hit the companies profits, with adjusted earnings per share would fall sharply to between $1.50 and $1.80, well below the average estimate of $2.06 in a survey by Yahoo Finance.

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