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UAL Posts Big Loss in Fourth Quarter, Says Another One's Coming

The airline's revenues fall to $2.9 billion from $4.8 billion.
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(UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report

said fourth quarter revenues fell to $2.9 billion from $4.8 billion as air travel evaporated following Sept. 11. It predicted another big loss in the first quarter.

The airline posted a fourth-quarter loss of $308 million, or $5.68 a share, but the figure was padded by government money and other items totaling $332 million. Before the items the loss was $640 million, or $11.74 a share ? substantially narrower than the $14.96 analysts were predicting.

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"While our financial results this quarter reflect a decline in both business and leisure travel, during the fourth quarter we saw signs that air travel is slowly beginning to recover," the company said in a statement. "As a result we plan to add 127 daily departures in our April schedule over current levels."

The company said it was burning cash at a rate of $10 million a day in the quarter and ended the period with $2.6 billion in cash. The company said it recently closed a $775 million debt financing.

The company expects January passenger unit revenue to be 15% to 17% below last year and although it has seen "positive revenue trends," it expects to report a significant loss in the first quarter.