Amy Sancetta, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2011 file photo, United Airlines jets sit on the tarmac at Cleveland Hopkins Airport in Cleveland. The parent company of United and Continental airlines said Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, it lost $138 million in the fourth quarter because of the costs of integrating the two airlines.

The parent company of United and Continental airlines posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss as the cost of integrating them fell.

United Continental Holdings Inc. said Thursday that it lost $138 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with a loss of $325 million, or $1.01, a year earlier.

Without special charges, the company said it would have earned $109 million, or 30 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected a profit of 13 cents per share.

Revenue rose 5.5 percent to $8.93 billion, matching analysts' expectation and helped by fare increases. Revenue for each seat flown one mile rose 8.2 percent.

United and Continental merged on Oct. 1, 2010, and the new company spent $493 million on integration-related costs during the next three months, driving it to a $325 million loss during that quarter. Integration costs shrank to $170 million in the most recent quarter.

The company is combining United and Continental into one airline flying under the United name. It has to integrate the massive computer systems that run reservations, scheduling, and corporate functions. It also has to combine fleets and maintenance procedures, and must merge groups of workers that in some cases came from different unions.

For all of 2011, the company earned $840 million, or $2.26 per share. That was down from a 2010 profit — if the two companies had been combined for all of that year — of $955 million, or $2.61 per share.

Shares rose 69 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $20.41 in premarket trading.