United Airlines predicts drop in 4Q unit revenue

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2009 11:09 AM

United Airlines said Thursday that it expects a key measure of revenue will fall about 6.3 percent to 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same time last year.

The drop-off in passenger unit revenue, or revenue divided by capacity, comes as United shrinks fourth-quarter capacity 3.3 percent compared with the same period last year. United expects fourth-quarter traffic to be roughly flat.

Operating expenses are falling, too, with consolidated unit costs down 7.9 percent to 8.2 percent not counting profit sharing and some hedging impact.

United, which is a unit of UAL Corp., said it expects to end the quarter with $3 billion in unrestricted cash. That's up by about $500 million from the end of the third quarter, the company said. United expects to get another $250 million in January from transactions it has already announced.

UAL shares fell 25 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $11.01 in morning trading.