United and Continental posts quarterly profits

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United and Continental continued the third quarter profit streak for US carriers as both carriers enjoyed profitability for the period ending 30 September.

The carriers closed on their merger on 1 October, and are reporting separate results for the third quarter. Starting in the fourth quarter, United and Continental plan to report combined results.

United's posted third quarter net income of $387 million, reversing a $57 million loss recorded in the year prior. The carrier's third quarter revenues grew 22% to $5.4 billion as yields grew 17% . Consolidated expenses at United grew to $4.9 billion from $4.3 billion the year prior. Total fuel expense grew 17% to $1.2 billion.

United improved its operating profits year-over-year by $447 million to $535 million.

Continental also reversed a third quarter 2009 loss of $18 million to a $367 million profit this year. Its revenues increased 19% to $4 billion as yields strengthened by 19%. The carrier's expenses increased 8% to $3.5 billion, with distribution costs posting the largest increase of 20% to $193 million. But fuel continued to be the carrier's largest expense as total fuel costs for the quarter were $984 million.

Continental's operating profit for the quarter grew from $61 million recorded in 2009 to $441 million.

Combined United and Continental ended the third quarter with $9.1 billion in cash, and generated $750 million of operating cash flow.