Jan 22 (Reuters) - United Continental Holdings Inc has closed out almost all of its remaining fuel hedges for the first quarter as sinking oil prices are expected to result in hedge losses of close to $1 billion for 2015, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.
John Rainey, CFO of United Continental, the parent company of United Airlines, in a conference call following the release of quarterly results, said the company now expects to participate in 84 percent of any future declines in the price of oil.
"This month, we also closed out virtually the entire remaining portion of our first-quarter hedge positions," he said.
He said the company expects $190 million in hedge losses this quarter and another $680 million in losses for the remaining three quarters of 2015, based on Jan. 15 estimates.
United earlier this year said it had already started to shrink its fuel hedge position.
The airline on Thursday said it expects the oil windfall to buoy its profits, forecasting an average jet fuel cost this quarter of $1.96 to $2.01 per gallon.
The oil glut, which has driven down prices by more than 57 percent since June, is a boon worth hundreds of millions of dollars to airlines. Fuel typically is the largest variable cost for airlines.
United also said that its only currency hedge going forward into 2015 is on the euro. It has hedged about 60 percent of its exposure at a rate of $1.22, Rainey said.
United's shares were up 4 percent at $71.97, after the airline gave a bullish outlook for the first quarter.
Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Leslie Adler