10/27/2011 09:34 EDT | Updated 12/27/2011 05:12 EST

United Continental fuel bill jumps, reducing 3Q profit to $653 million

A higher fuel bill brought down United Continental's quarterly profit by 23 per cent.

The company's fuel cost was $831 million bigger than last year. As a result, the airline's third-quarter net income fell to $653 million, or $1.69 per share. That was down from $852 million, or $2.16 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue, however, rose almost 9 per cent to $10.17 billion because United Continental raised fares and cut back on flying.

The company would have earned $2 per share if not for one-time costs related to combining the two airlines, which took place Oct. 1, 2010. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting net income of $2.08 per share on revenue of $10.11 billion.

The year-earlier results include both United and Continental, even though they hadn't merged yet.

With fares higher and the economy weak, fewer people flew. Traffic was down 1.5 per cent for the quarter compared with a year ago.