Continental Airlines ( CAL) continues to cruise along, despite being battered by storms and out-of-control jet fuel prices.

Late Monday, the nation's No. 6 airline said it expects a "modest" third-quarter profit. Unit revenue on large "mainline" flights jumped a solid 8% during September, and Continental ended the month with a cash hoard of $1.93 billion, in line with its previous guidance.

Investors welcomed the news, bidding up shares 78 cents, or 7.9%, to $10.69 Tuesday.

Airlines are facing a near-term fuel crisis that isn't fully reflected in crude-oil futures. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina knocked out multiple Gulf Coast refineries that produce highly refined jet kerosene, leading to shortages and price spikes. The situation has gotten so bad that the world's biggest carrier, AMR's ( AMR) American Airlines is canceling more than a dozen round-trip flights for the rest of October. Continental has also said it's considering similar cutbacks.

Continental's monthly operating results are closely watched because, unlike most other major carriers, Continental discloses unit revenue.

For September, Continental estimates a 7.5% to 8.5% increase in unit revenue, which airlines measure by revenue per available seat mile -- the money brought in for each seat flown one mile. The increase was in line with J.P. Morgan's 8% estimate but exceeded Merrill Lynch's prediction for a 6% to 7% gain.

The RASM increase came as passenger traffic outpaced the airline's capacity gains. Mainline passenger traffic surged 9.1% year over year in September, while Continental added 6.1% new capacity. That combination allowed the airline to fill 77.3% of its planes, on average, a record for the month.

Continental also said Hurricane Rita forced the airline to cancel mainline flights at its Houston hub after 12 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, and all of the following day. Passenger traffic and unit revenue on Houston flights in the days just before and after the storm saw dramatic declines.

September RASM also took a hit from Continental's decision to offer lower fares out of Houston to assist residents trying to evacuate.

All told, the storm depressed operating results by roughly $25 million, Continental said.

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