Airline Cash Flow

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All right our first story comes in from our Listener Linda. This is from one mile at a time surprising statistics about mileage, plus about united, mileage plus. In, we see that united has announced financing in the amount of five billion dollars secured through the airlines loyalty program. This is part of their to have seventeen billion dollars in liquidity by the end of September. Separately CNN reports that that's three times the cash. They normally have on hint. Of course all the airlines are. Struggling essentially with their cash flow situations and they they need to have. Cash on hand united is amongst them of course and It's it's an interesting strategy to take their mileage plus program and leverage off some financing based on that and the findings. He's GonNa come through Goldman Sachs Barclays. And Morgan Stanley and united will have seven years to repay that. These affinity programs like mileage plus our big business for the airlines united estimates that the value of their mileage plus program. If it was a standalone business, would be twenty billion dollars, so there's a lot of. A lot of revenue that changes hands here. We need Dan back as guest to explain all this 'cause. I tried to read how they mortgaged their frequent flyer program to raise five billion in my head started to hurt. Well I'm just thinking I I'm GonNa. Leave the show early right now because I'm GonNa, go start the airplane, Geeks, mileage plus program. I mean there's this is a twenty billion dollar business. We're wasting our time here, guys. I know it's It's pretty amazing so. The, the partners United Partners Pay United to award miles to their own customers, so says things like credit, cards and hotels when you earn united miles or mileage plus miles by reserving at a hotel or using a credit card. United gets a piece of that action and it adds up to quite a lot. So that large part of it comes from selling miles to other airline programs. I didn't see them call out specifically income from credit cards for example card I use most often still is the united mileage plus a credit card. I would imagine they must be earning. Some money from chaser manages that card. Even My my Hilton Program have the option the option of taking my awards, my my points, basically that I earned from staying at Hilton, properties and I, either get Hilton points which I can redeem for rooms, or I can get united, miles well Hilton. Kick something that United Four that for Hilton. There's value because it's you know. It's a service can offer its customers. If you look at the one mile at a time website. It gets down to break some of the stuff down. Like seventy one percent of the cat is offer twenty, one, thousand, nine hundred. Seventy one percent of the cash flow is from sales miles purchased by third party partners. But then when you look at how it was redeemed, ninety seven percent is redeemed by. using it on united. Right for travel, in yeah, only three percent of those milder redeemed for non travel rewards, it does make you start to wonder if the the planes are just kind of you know aside business. Instead they're making money off of mileage plus baggage fees. You wonder at some point Could this be one of these businesses where you know you give away the the razors for free, and you're making it all on selling razor blades. Absolutely I am particularly these days, but even you know even without the huge drop in air traffic is the result of the pandemic. Even before that the aircraft, just the promotional item Eb. Senses Yeah and in some in some way, so it's it's a really interesting business. It's not always what you What you think we also see here that you united his made an SEC filing an aide filing in in that filing. We learn a little bit more about the program. that united mileage. Plus program has over a hundred million members. And that fifty percent of United's flight revenue comes from mileage plus members. Which is that's? That's pretty high. Also the mileage plus program generated five point three billion in cash flow from sales in two thousand nineteen, and that's roughly twelve percent of United's overall revenue. So, Oh, another interesting The number here is it. The mileage plus program generated one point eight billion dollars in Eba, DA, which represents about twenty six percent of their total adjusted ebitda. That's. earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization. So that's that's sort of a A. Year of earnings from an operating standpoint, twenty six percent of united's basically operating earnings from this mileage plus

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