By Michael Clarke

UNITED Airlines has joined its fellow struggling US
rival American Airlines by reporting a $1 billion plus first-quarter loss.

The Chapter 11 stricken carrier recorded a net loss of
$1.3 billion for the three months to the end of March, more than double the
$550 million recorded last year.

Chief executive Glen Tilton said: “The first
quarter was particularly difficult, given travellers’ concerns about the
conflict in Iraq, the weak economy and a fierce low-fare environment, as well
as speculation about our company’s future ñ speculation that is now
abating.”

Tilton added the Iraq conflict and fierce low-cost
competition in the domestic US market impacted the quarter.

US Airways fared better, recording a loss of $282
million, against $269 million last year. The carrier came out of Chapter 11
protection earlier this year but chief executive David Siegel warned
restructuring is ongoing and further costs will have to be cut.