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United Airlines asks judge to extend its bankruptcy

SHARE United Airlines asks judge to extend its bankruptcy

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines said Friday it won't be ready to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer as planned, citing lingering uncertainties about its financing, and targeted fall as "more realistic."

The world's second-largest airline asked a bankruptcy judge in a court motion filed late Friday afternoon to extend by three months the period of exclusivity in which it alone can file a reorganization plan — although there is no imminent threat of an outside bidder taking over the airline.

That would give it until Sept. 30, although additional extensions are possible.

United has been in bankruptcy for nearly 18 months — about the amount of time CEO Glenn Tilton said would be needed to complete a restructuring when the initial filing was made in December 2002.

The Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based carrier had maintained as recently as last month that it was on track to come out of Chapter 11 this summer. But soaring jet fuel costs have kept it unprofitable longer than expected, and United also is still waiting for the Air Transportation Stabilization Board to rule on its application for a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee.

"We don't have sole control over the ATSB's decision on the loan guarantee application and other factors that influence our exit," United spokeswoman Jean Medina said. "So fall is a more realistic possibility."

Judge Eugene Wedoff is expected to rule on the request at United's monthly bankruptcy hearing on June 18.