United Airlines preparing for 'mild' economic recession next year -CEO

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American, Delta, United CEOs testify before U.S. Senate panel
Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., December 15, 2021. Tom Brenner/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C./CHICAGO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - United Airlines Inc (UAL.O) Chief Executive Scott Kirby on Tuesday said his company is preparing for a "mild" economic recession next year.

Kirby, however, added that the Chicago-based carrier has not yet seen any signs of a recession in its data.

"If I didn't read the Wall Street Journal or watch CNBC, the word recession wouldn't be in my vocabulary right now," Kirby said on the sidelines of an event.

"For what it's worth, we are planning for a mild recession next year," he said.

A worsening economic outlook coupled with high inflation has sparked concerns about consumer demand, hurting airline shares.

The NYSE Arca Airline index (.XAL) fell 3.4% on Tuesday as JetBlue (JBLU.O) and Spirit Airlines trimmed estimates for revenue per available seat mile in the current quarter.

JetBlue also said travel demand for December is shaping up to be below its expectations. The New York-based carrier's shares were down about 9% in afternoon trade.

Kirby said United has not seen any softening in bookings.

"I am glad we are not JetBlue," he said. "We still see strong demand."

Reporting by Reporting by David Shepardson and Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago; Editing by Mark Porter and Alistair Bell

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