US WEST Inc. reported net income of $249.6 million ($1.37 per share) for the first quarter of 1989, a 5.4 percent increase over the $240.5 million earned in the first quarter last year.

Sales totaled $2.4 billion for the quarter, compared to $2.2 billion during the first quarter of 1988. Return on average equity was 12.7 percent, compared to 12.8 percent a year earlier."We've gotten off to a good start in 1989," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack MacAllister. "As expected, our earnings growth continues to come from our non-telephone operations." The company's results for the first quarter included a gain from BetaWest Properties' sale of City Financial Tower in Honolulu.

"BetaWest continues to do an outstanding job," Mac-Allister said. "We made money on BetaWest property sales in 1987 and 1988, and we have started 1989 with another profitable building sale. That is exactly what BetaWest's business plan calls for them to do.

"I'm pleased by the sales increases generated through the market units of US WEST Communications," MacAllister added. "Our access-line growth was relatively strong, particularly on the business side."

MacAllister said that although long-distance volume also showed impressive growth, the increased sales were partially offset by the effects of rate reductions.