airplaneIn a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) said it expects its consolidated available seat miles (ASMs) to drop by 4.2% in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period a year ago. The company attributes the decline to weather-related issues in the quarter, including the effects of Hurricane Sandy. For the full 2012 fiscal year, ASMs are expected to fall by 1.5%.

United expects passenger revenue per ASM to rise by 0.5% to 1.5% in the fourth quarter and by 1.7% to 1.9% for the full year. Unit costs, excluding fuel and other charges, are expected to rise 5.6% to 6.6%, compared with the fourth quarter of last year. For the full year, unit costs are expected to rise by 3.2% to 3.6%.

Fuel costs for the fourth quarter are estimated at $3.28 per gallon and for the full year at $3.27 a gallon.

Load factor - the number of seats filled - is up 6.4 points for the next six weeks on domestic mainline planes, compared with the same period a year ago. Load factor on the company's regional planes is up 6.6 points, while international bookings are up 4.1 points.

United Continental's shares are down 1.5% in premarket trading this morning, at $22.85 in a 52-week range of $17.25 to $25.84.

Paul Ausick


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Airlines Tagged: UAL

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