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United Airlines CEO doesn't expect 'normal' demand for flying until 2024

Fly the friendly skies, if you must — but don't expect others to be flying with you.

United Airlines doesn't anticipate business demand getting back to "normal" until 2024, CNBC's Carl Quintanilla reports, after the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the airline industry into a near-shutdown. Per Quintanilla, United CEO Scott Kirby revealed the prediction on a Thursday conference call, echoing what some analysts predicted in April.

Despite the bleak forecast, Kirby expressed optimism at United's trajectory moving forward on Thursday, saying the airline has "turned the corner" and "gotten through the initial phase of the crisis."

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Kirby told CNBC. "It's a long tunnel, it's gonna have ups and downs."

In its third quarter, United posted $1.8 billion in losses, averaging around $25 million a day, and was operating at 70 percent capacity compared to 2019. The reported losses, which were bigger than expected, follow United's announcement last month that it will begin offering COVID-19 tests to passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii.

And if you're gonna risk pandemic travel, might as well get a lei out of it.