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United reports $273M 2Q profit

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MINNEAPOLIS — The parent of United Airlines said on Tuesday that it earned $273 million in the second quarter, its best result in almost three years.

MINNEAPOLIS — The parent of United Airlines said on Tuesday that it earned $273 million in the second quarter, its best result in almost three years.

UAL Corp.’s quarterly revenue rose 28.4 percent to $5.16 billion.

Several things improved for the nation’s third-biggest airline, suggesting that it is benefiting from an economic recovery. Per-seat revenue rose 26.9 percent, to 13.02 cents per available seat mile. Cargo revenue increased 57 percent.

A year ago it earned $28 million because of gains on fuel hedging. This time, UAL’s profit — $1.29 per share — came from flying.

Not counting special charges, UAL said it would have earned $430 million, or $1.95 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting a profit of $1.74 per share on revenue of $5.12 billion.

UAL finished the quarter with $5.17 billion in cash. Its headcount shrank 2.7 percent from a year ago, to 42,600 full-time equivalent employees.

Capacity on United mainline jets fell 1.6 percent as it shifted flying to regional airlines flying under the United Express name. Counting those regional airlines, overall flying rose 1.1 percent.

Costs rose 1.9 percent for each mile it flew, not counting fuel and other charges.

Shares of the Chicago-based airline rose 48 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $21.66 in morning trading.