United Airlines posts $1.3 billion first-quarter loss; second-worst showing ever

Friday, May 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ United Airlines' parent company reported a $1.3 billion loss Friday for its first full quarter in bankruptcy, its 11th straight quarterly loss and its second-worst ever.

UAL Corp. blamed the loss, the largest by any carrier for the first three months of the year, on the sluggish economy, the war in Iraq, SARS and consumer concerns about United's future.

The world's No. 2 airline said booking trends have improved since the first quarter ended and that it will show dramatic savings in labor costs from the new contracts that took effect Thursday. But it acknowledged that demand remains weak amid the industrywide slump.

The net loss for the three months ended March 31 amounted to $14.16 per share, compared with a loss of $510 million, or $9.22 a share, for the same period in 2002.

Results included a $248 million charge for reorganization items, primarily a write-off of lease certificates and a $137 million writedown of its investment in Air Canada, which also has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Excluding those items, the loss was $10.11 a share, beating the consensus estimate of a $12.08 loss by analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Revenues were $3.18 billion, down 3 percent from $3.29 billion a year earlier. Passenger revenue was down 8 percent.

The company lost $2 million a day from operations in the first quarter _ a substantial improvement from the second half of last year.