UAL net loss widens on volatile fuel prices

CHICAGO Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:38pm GMT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - UAL Corp UAUA.O, parent of United Airlines, on Wednesday said its quarterly net loss widened on erosion in the value of its fuel hedge program as oil prices plummeted.

The company said its net loss amounted to $1.3 billion, or $9.91 per share, compared with $53 million a year earlier, or 47 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items, the airline said it lost $4.22 per share compared with Wall Street forecasts for $4.42, according to Reuters Estimates.

The airline industry, battered severely last year by soaring fuel costs, slashed capacity in the fourth quarter to offset that bill and to gain pricing power as economic woes eroded travel demand.

UAL said its revenue was $4.55 billion in the quarter, down 9.6 percent.

The company said it ended the quarter with an unrestricted cash balance of $2 billion.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Maureen Bavdek)