United Continental Holdings today (January 26) announced a Q4 loss of $138m. The figure includes $247m “special items”, mainly relating to the merger of the two airlines.

The holding company said that without the special items,  it had a net income of $109m for the three months ending in December.

But the airline said it had made a full year profit for 2011 of $1.3bn excluding special items amounting to $483m or $840m including them.

The company, still listed on the New York Stock Exchange as UAL, said revenue during the fourth quarter rose 5.5% year on year to $8.9bn while consolidated passenger revenue increased by 5.6% to $7.8bn,  compared with the same period in 2010.

For the full year, UAL said consolidated passenger revenue rose 9% compared with 2010 with consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile up 9.2%.

But the airline also said it had been hit by a year on year rise of 36.5% in fuel costs, amounting to $3.4bn.

Durign 2011, UAL said it had “accomplished several milestomes towards completing full integration” of United and Continental.

These included a single operating certificate, the integration of ticketing and gate facilities at 66 new airports, bringing the total to 291, and the rebranding of 800 aircraft.

Zane Rowe, UAL’s executive vp and chief financial officer, said: “Our results reflect the work of our entire team to operate our airline in a cost effective manner and help deliver a strong profit during our first full year as a merged company.

“We are well positioned to reach our integration milestones and synergy goals in 2012.”

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