Air Transport World

United Airlines.(US Majors)

United's financial performance improved markedly over the past year, but the red ink continues to flow nonetheless. New labor agreements reached in May 2002 that are saving an estimated $2.56 billion annually propelled the airline to its first quarterly operating profit in more than three years as it earned $90 million excluding special charges in the three months ended Sept. 30 versus a loss of $646 million in the year-earlier period. But it returned to heavy losses in the fourth quarter and has yet to show a bottom-line profit in any period. Its full-year loss in 2003, even after excluding special items, totaled $1.7 billion, much improved over a loss of $3.2 billion in 2002 but hardly the sort of performance that one assumes will win it a federal loan guarantee. …

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