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United overcame international and aircraft-related challenges to flourish in 2019. Despite the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX jets and the impact of Hong Kong protests on its flights there, United increased its passenger revenue and benefitted from low fuel costs; overall revenues rose 4.7% to $43.3 billion, and profits jumped 41.3%, to $3 billion. CEO Oscar Munoz, who spent years helping United recover from its troubled merger with Continental, last June dropped the latter’s name from the combined company. J. Scott Kirby, who had been president of the company succeeded Munoz as CEO in May 2020. But the airline’s large international business meant that United was one of the first U.S. carriers to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic; by April, it had accepted government aid, slashed capacity, given voluntary unpaid leaves of absence to more than 20,000 workers, and reported $1.7 billion in first-quarter losses. The pain continued in the second quarter as sales plummeted 87% compared to the year before and United reported a loss of $1.6 billion.
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