It was a rough third quarter for United Airlines.
Travelers stayed away, frustrated by technology glitches from United's merger with Continental. And a huge accounting charge wiped out most of its profit.
United's performance weakened by every measure important to airlines: Per-passenger revenue fell 2.6 per cent, and was down in every part of the world except for the Pacific. Traffic decreased 1.5 per cent. Yield, which measures fares paid, slipped 1.2 per cent.
Net income for United Continental Holdings Inc dropped to US$6 million, or two cents per share, from US$653 million, or US$1.69 per share, a year earlier.
Its most recent profit would have been bigger if not for a special charge for a preliminary agreement with its pilots. But excluding that charge, its profit of US$1.35 per share was still 12 cents less than analysts expected, according to FactSet.
Revenue fell 2.6 per cent to US$9.91 billion, also below analysts' expectations.
By comparison, Delta's passenger revenue rose one per cent during the most recent quarter, and yield rose three per cent. The rival airline posted a US$1.05-billion profit, with an assist from bets on fuel prices.
United planned ahead for some of the traffic reduction by reducing flying capacity 1.4 per cent.
Airlines have been increasingly aggressive about cutting capacity to keep the number of seats they offer in line with demand, so they can keep fares higher.
United booked a US$454-million charge to cover future lump-sum payments to pilots. The airline also recorded US$60 million in integration expenses for merging the two airlines. That money covered repainting planes, merging computer systems, and charges for getting rid of facilities that the combined airline no longer needs.