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UPDATE 1-United Airlines to turn focus to earnings growth over capacity -president

-president@ (Adds details and background)

CHICAGO, Sept 12 (Reuters) - United Airlines Holdings is to turn its focus on growing earnings and margins after nearly two years of a strategy rooted in adding more seat capacity, President Scott Kirby said at a conference on Thursday.

United shocked investors when it unveiled a three-year plan in early 2018 to grow its capacity by an annual 4% to 6%, a faster rate than its competitors.

The market has long feared that more available seats on airplanes force fares lower, hitting the closely watched unit revenue metric.

But United's unit revenues have grown thanks to a strategy based on flying more flights out of its hubs.

That plan will continue, Kirby said, noting that all of the carrier's planned capacity growth is focused in areas where it already has "the best competitive position."

United's shares have risen 7% so far this year, despite headwinds like U.S.-China trade tensions, unrest in Hong Kong and the global grounding of the Boeing Co 737 MAX.

Shares in rival American Airlines Group Inc, which also owns the 737 MAX, are down 7 percent this year. (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)