United loses $325m in Q1

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United Airlines posted a $325 million net loss excluding special charges in the first quarter, widening its loss from $286 million excluding charges a year earlier.

The Chicago-based carrier reports a $417 million net loss including $92 million in charges, which is down 4.7% versus 2012. Special items include $70 million in merger-related charges, $11 million from the Boeing 787 grounding and voluntary severance and benefits.

"Our co-workers pulled together in the first quarter to significantly improve our operational performance and customer service despite challenging weather and high load factors, and I want to thank them for their hard work," says Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and chief executive of United, in a statement. "Although this was a difficult quarter financially, I'm very proud of our team."

Operating revenue was up 1.4% to $8.72 billion and operating expenses were up 1.3% to $8.99 billion. The operating loss was down 2.6% to $264 million.

Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) rose 5.9% to 13.18 cents, and cost per available seat mile (CASM) excluding fuel and special charges rose 11.1% to 9.97 cents.

United paid an average of $3.28 per gallon for fuel with hedges during the quarter, this was down 1.7% from a year earlier.

Traffic was down 1.2% on a 4.9% decrease in capacity, which boosted the load factor three percentage points to 81.1% during the quarter.