Continental Airlines swung to a loss, as mounting jet fuel costs offset gains in revenue from passengers and cargo.
Echoing larger rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which each unveiled quarterly losses of more than $1bn on Wednesday, Continental on Thursday called the current climate “the worst financial environment for US network carriers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”
Continental’s second-quarter loss of $3m, or 3 cents a share, compared with net income of $228m, or $2.03, a year earlier. Excluding a tax gain, the company lost $25m, or 25 cents.
As American and Delta did a day earlier, the Houston-based carrier posted results, excluding certain items, that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. And like those peers, Continental highlighted its efforts to raise cash it may need to weather the industry’s brutal conditions.
After jumping more than 38 per cent on Wednesday, Continental’s shares were little changed by midmorning trading in New York.
Continental raised $900m during the quarter by amending its credit-card marketing agreement, issuing stock and selling its equity stake in Copa Holdings.
Revenue climbed 9 per cent to $4.0bn, paced by gains on transatlantic, Latin American and regional US routes.
Operating expenses rose 19 per cent. Fuel costs were by far the biggest culprit, surging 66 per cent to $1.36 bn - almost double the airline’s second-biggest expense, employee wages and salaries.