United, Continental Report Profits on Improving Travel Demand

United Airlines and Continental Airlines posted third-quarter profits amid improving business- travel demand that is letting them charge more for tickets.

United said profit excluding some items was $473 million, or $2.12 a share. Continental’s profit was $367 million, or $2.24 a share.

Rebounding travel demand is enabling the carriers to boost fares while keeping planes full. The carriers merged in October in an all-stock deal to form Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc., surpassing Delta Air Lines Inc. as the world’s largest airline.

“As we integrate the two networks and create the world’s leading airline, we will provide even more value to our customers,” Chief Revenue Officer Jim Compton said today in a statement.

United’s revenue rose 22 percent to $5.39 billion. Analysts estimated $5.41 billion. Continental’s revenue advanced 19 percent to $3.95 billion. Analysts predicted $3.91 billion, on average.

United had been the third-largest carrier in the U.S. before the $3.47 billion merger and Houston-based Continental was No. 4.

United Continental Holdings jumped $1.94, or 7.6 percent, to $27.63 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have advanced 12 percent since they began trading when the merger was completed Oct. 1.

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.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net.

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