United Airlines Parent's Loss Narrows as Travel Revives

United Airlines parent UAL Corp., the company in merger talks with Continental Airlines Inc., said its first-quarter loss narrowed to $82 million as travel demand began to revive.

The net loss of 49 cents a share shrank from $382 million, or $2.64, a year earlier. Revenue rose 15 percent to $4.24 billion, the Chicago-based carrier said today in a statement.

The results reflected UAL’s performance before discussions began this month on a tie-up with Continental that would create the world’s largest airline. United raised ticket prices, collected more fees and benefited from previous cost reductions such as parking jets and cutting jobs.

“We improved our cash position, maintained our cost control, accelerated our revenue improvement and generated an operating profit,” Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said in the statement.

UAL said its loss excluding what the company considers one- time items was $92 million, or 55 cents a share. On that basis, analysts expected a 62-cent loss, the average of 8 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The average of 6 analysts’ sales projections was $4.18 billion.

Passenger traffic was little changed in the quarter from a year earlier, United said, suggesting that demand had begun to strengthen after a 15 percent plunge in the same period in 2009.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net; Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

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