United says it recovered quickly from last week's computer outage

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A system outage that plagued United Airlines during the early morning hours last Friday resulted in the cancellation of 16 flights, the company’s communications chief, Linda Jojo, said Monday.

“We really did a fantastic job recovering from the outage,” Jojo told reporters during a conference call to discuss the carrier’s third-quarter earnings report.

The outage, she explained, was the result of system glitch that occurred as the carrier was conducting a flight-schedule update. Two systems competed with each other to get data to a third system, causing them to overload each other. Jojo said that United has patched that problem so that it won’t happen again.

Jojo took questions alongside new United CFO Andrew Levy, who reported that the carrier had net income in the third quarter of $965 million. The figure is off 80% from last year, but mainly because United was able to take a $3.2 billion tax benefit last fall. United’s pre-tax income in the third quarter was $1.5 billion, off 9% from last year.

The carrier recorded third quarter operating revenue of $9.9 billion, off 3.8% from 2015 as the strong dollar and weak corporate travel in the energy sector helped drive down fares.

United’s expenses were down 1.4%, to $8.3 billion, with lower fuel prices partially countered by higher labor costs.

The airline reported earnings per share in the third quarter of $3.11, beating analyst predictions by 6 cents, according to Nasdaq.

The United outage last week came on the heels of far more problematic computer breakdowns at Southwest and Delta over the summer. The Delta outage in August forced the carrier to cancel 2,100 flights over four days. In July, a computer failure forced Southwest to cancel 2,300 flights over four days.

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