Losses as United Continental were reduced in the first quarter as the world’s largest airline gained from lower fuel prices and higher passenger revenue.

The carrier lost $417 million in the first three months against $448 million in the same period last year. Revenue rose to $8.7 billion from $8.6 billion.

Expenses from aircraft fuel fell 5.5% during the three months.

Chief executive Jeff Smisek said it had been a “difficult quarter financially”.

However, the carrier recorded its best first-quarter punctuality performance in more than a decade, with 81% of flights arriving within 14 minutes of the scheduled time.

“Our co-workers pulled together in the first quarter to significantly improve our operational performance and customer service despite challenging weather and high load factors,” Smisek said.