United liquidity down in Q1

Washington DC
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United Airlines saw its unrestricted liquidity fall to $5.39 billion at the end of the first quarter, as it refinanced and paid down debt.

Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were down 17.6% at the end of March from $6.54 billion three months earlier. Cash fell 25.9% from the end of March 2012.

Long-term debt and capital leases were down 2.5% to $10.95 billion at the end of the quarter compared December 2012. Debt was down 3.1% year-on-year.

Chicago-based United made $1.3 billion in debt and capital lease payments, including the repayment of $600 million in secured notes, during the first quarter, says John Rainey, chief financial officer of the airline, during an earnings call on 25 April.

The carrier also refinanced a $1.2 billion term loan due in 2014 with a new $900 million term loan and the balance paid with cash in March. It opened a new $1 billion revolving credit facility as part of the deal.

"The combined term loan and revolver transaction improved our unrestricted liquidity position by $200 million and resulted in a more efficient source of liquidity," says Rainey during the call. He adds that United's unencumbered asset base was $4.5 billion at the end of the quarter.

United has $1 billion in debt and capital lease payments that are still due this year, he says.

Capital expenditure was $375 million in the first quarter, according to a stock exchange filing on 25 April. The airline anticipates net expenditures to be $375 million in the second quarter.