Tilton expects U.S. airlines to earn $4B in 2010

By Reuters
Posted Nov. 17, 2010 at 2:01 p.m.

U.S. airlines are projected to post $4 billion in profits for 2010, the chairman of the newly formed United Continental Holdings said Wednesday.

Speaking to an industry group in Washington, D.C., Glenn Tilton said the United Continental balance sheet needs a ā€¯tremendous amount of deleveragingā€¯ and that it may be time to focus on making balance sheets more resilient.

The carrier has about $9 billion in cash.

The airline industry has been hit in recent years by overcapacity and an economic recession that drained travel demand. But carriers are beginning to recover.

United Continental Holdings was formed this year from a $3.17 billion merger of UAL Corp and Continental Airlines with the goal of delivering $1 billion to $1.2 billion in annual cost and revenue benefits by 2013.

United’s shares were up 7 cents at $27.25 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Arca airline index was up 0.58 percent.

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