U.S. Continental Airlines loses 146 million dollars in first quarter

08:22, April 23, 2010      

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U.S. airline Continental said on Thursday its first-quarter net loss widened by 7.4 percent to 146 million U.S. dollars, a loss wider than analysts expected, as severe winter weather and higher fuel costs pinch on the company's first-quarter results.

However, the Houston-based carrier said in a statement that its first-quarter revenue rose 7 percent to 3.17 billion dollars, slightly higher than the expected 3.15 billion dollars. The company's revenue in the year-ago period was 3 billion dollars.

Continental's first-quarter revenue rise was helped by the greater demand for air travel and benefits from the company's shift to the Star Alliance network.

The fourth-largest U.S. airline by traffic reported a loss of 98 cents per share in the first quarter, against a loss of 86 cents a share predicted by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Heavy snowstorms that shut down Continental's New York-area hub twice in February cut the company's first-quarter consolidated revenue by about 25 million dollars.

Higher fuel costs also helped push Continental's cost per available seat mile 7.4 percent higher in the quarter. The average price of a gallon of jet fuel rose about 17 percent.

"I'm disappointed with our first quarter results, which were impacted by the weak economy and the challenges we experienced with weather related closures of our Newark Liberty hub," said Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Continental.

"However, the year-over-year increase in our revenue reflects the slowly improving global economy and benefits from our membership in Star Alliance," he said.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines parent AMR Corp. also reported big first-quarter losses.



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