FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, file photo, Holiday travelers check in at the United Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 1 in O''Hare International Airport in Chicago. United Airlines reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Photo credit: The Associated Press
The parent of United Airlines said Thursday that it earned $140 million in the fourth quarter, as more passengers flew and paid more for their tickets. The airline's fuel bill also shrank.
Net income at United Continental Holdings Inc. was $140 million, or 37 cents per share. A year earlier it lost $620 million, or $1.87 per share.
Not counting special charges, United would have earned 78 cents per share — well above the 66 cents expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Revenue rose more than 7 percent to $9.33 billion, also higher than analysts had expected.
Passengers paid 3 percent more per mile to fly compared to a year earlier. They paid more in add-on fees, too. United said so-called ancillary revenue, which covers items such as baggage fees, rose 15 percent in the quarter to nearly $21 per passenger.
Fuel expenses fell 4 percent to $2.97 billion for the quarter.
United said in November that it intends to cut $2 billion in annual costs. The company is still working to integrate Continental after their 2010 merger. Although all the paint on the planes and the signs at the ticket counters read "United," the company still has to schedule flight crews and planes separately for the two airlines, reducing the savings from the merger.
"Our goals for 2014 are to provide even more reliable operations, great customer service and materially better financial performance," chairman and CEO Jeff Smisek said in a written statement.
For the full year, United earned $571 million, after losing $723 million in 2012.
Shares of Chicago-based United Continental fell 3.4 percent in premarket trading to $47.50. They set a new 52-week high on Wednesday at $49.20.
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