UAL Corp , parent of United Airlines, on Tuesday said its quarterly net loss shrank, topping expectations, helped by a sharp revenue increase and accounting gains related to its fuel hedges.

The No. 3 U.S. airline, which is in merger talks with Continental Airlines , said its first-quarter net loss was $82 million, or 49 cents per share, compared with $382 million, or $2.64 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, UAL lost 55 cents per share, compared with a consensus Wall Street forecast for a 72 cents per-share loss, according to Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company recorded $15 million in cash losses on fuel hedges that settled in the first quarter. UAL also reported noncash, net mark-to-market gains on its fuel hedges of $31 million.

The airline industry is recovering from an economic downturn that drained travel demand.

UAL said its first-quarter revenue gained 15 percent to $4.24 billion. The company ended the quarter with cash amounting to $3.8 billion, unrestricted cash of more than $3.5 billion, and restricted cash of nearly $300 million.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Maureen Bavdek)