United liquidity down in Q4

Washington DC
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United Airlines' unrestricted liquidity fell 2.1% to $6.54 billion during the fourth quarter.

Unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, and short-term investments fell by 15.7% during 2012 at the Chicago-based carrier.

Long-term debt and capital leases were up 7.1% to $11.2 billion during the quarter ending 31 December. The metric fell 1.8% from $11.4 billion during the year.

"We're paying down high coupon, non-aircraft debt and reducing our reliance on debt financing to run the day to day operation instead accessing the capital markets to fund long term investments in our business," said John Rainey, chief financial officer of United, during an earnings call on 24 January. "We continue to make progress in this area in 2012 paying off about $340 million of non-aircraft debt with an average coupon of over 11%."

United made $1.4 billion in debt and capital lease payments in 2012, he said.

The airline continues to look for opportunities to pay down debt, it said in a stock exchange filing on 26 February.

United anticipates $1.9 billion in debt and capital lease payments and $1.4 billion in net capital expenditures this year. Debt payments include a $600 million prepayment of secured notes in February, according to Rainey.