Strong international growth enabled
to report a first-quarter profit for the first time since 2001.
The carrier said that excluding items, it would have earned $26 million, or 25 cents a share. Revenue was $2.9 billion, up 7.9%.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected 14 cents on revenue of $3.19 billion. A year earlier, excluding special items, the carrier lost $46 million.
Once all items were factored in, net income was $22 million, or 21 cents a share.
Continental said it benefited from strong revenue growth, continued cost discipline and a slight decrease in fuel prices, which overcame the impact of severe winter storms that reduced revenue by more than $10 million.
"While the domestic system suffers from yield pressure, the international system is performing superbly, and rewards us for our decade-long focus on international expansion," said President Jeff Smisek, in a prepared statement.
Mainline revenue per available seat mile grew 5.3% over the same quarter a year earlier, while consolidated RASM rose by 3.4%. Although domestic RASM declined by 0.7%, international segments showed double-digit increases, led by a 14.4% increase in Latin American markets.
Load factor was 79.1%, a first-quarter record. Yield increased 4.1%. On the expense side, cost per available seat mile increased by 1.3 %, holding fuel rates constant and excluding charges.