From a PR standpoint, one would think the month of April is as bad as it will get (hopefully) for United Continental (UAL 77.80, +2.82, +3.8%). The scandal surrounding the forcible removal of a passenger from an oversold flight, and the lame, first apology that followed from United Continental CEO Oscar Munoz, made for a lot of bad headlines. Apparently, though, it didn't make for a lot of customer cancellations.
After Monday's close, United Continental provided an update on its operational performance in April. All things considered, it was a pretty good update.
Consolidated traffic (revenue passenger miles) increased 7.4% against a 4.0% increase in consolidated capacity (available seat miles). The airline's consolidated load factor increased 2.6 points versus the same period a year ago.
Importantly, United Continental reaffirmed its expectation for second quarter consolidated passenger unit revenue to be up 1.0% to 3.0% year-over-year.
United Continental heralded the fact that it finished April ahead of all primary competitors in important metrics, including on-time departures and arrivals, and the fewest flight cancellations. The month of April, in fact, produced fewer flight cancellations than any other month in United Continental's history.
Obviously, United Continental didn't finish ahead of its primary competitors in the customer service department, yet it is also obvious that investors have gotten past the aforementioned incident.
Shares of UAL are up approximately 10% since the incident, including today's 2.7% gain, which comes on the heels of its otherwise encouraging operating performance update for the PR-plagued month of April.