Texas Air Corp., parent company of Continental Airlines and New York Air, yesterday reported record earnings of $91 million ($5.03 a share) for 1985, up from $50.3 million ($2.83) in 1984.

The record for the year came despite a loss in the fourth quarter.

The company's principal assets include the airlines and CCS Automation Systems.

Texas Air, which is based in Houston, reported a net loss of $31.6 million ($1.74) for the 1985 fourth quarter compared with a net profit of $11.3 million (62 cents) for the same period in 1984.

Continental Airlines reported record earnings of $60.9 million for 1985, compared with $50.3 million profits for 1984.

Texas Air now owns about 80 percent of Continental, which filed for bankruptcy in September 1983, and is trying to buy the rest.

Texas Air said it gained $33 million during 1985 by agreeing to end its merger efforts with Trans World Airlines Inc. and by selling its investment in Frontier Airlines.

*GAF Corp., which last year waged a merger battle for the much bigger Union Carbide Corp., reported yesterday its after-tax earnings slipped 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter from the year earlier.

But, excluding credits associated with tax benefits, GAF's net income grew, reaching the highest amount in any fourth quarter in the company's history.

The specialty-chemicals and building-materials maker said fourth-quarter net income totaled $13.37 million (74 cents a share) on sales of $174.22 million, compared with earnings of $14.45 million (94 cents) and sales of $166.31 million in the quarter.

Net income for the fourth quarter included $1.2 million in credits; the credits in the same period of 1984 totaled $4.8 million. Without those one-time gains, GAF had net income of $12.18 million in the final 1985 quarter, up from $9.63 million in the corresponding 1984 period.

The company said that the latest results -- excluding the credits -- mark the eighth straight quarterly gain in earnings since Samuel J. Heyman took over as chairman and chief executive officer in December 1983, after winning a prolonged proxy fight.

Under Heyman's leadership, GAF launched its bid for Union Carbide Corp., the chemical giant based in Danbury, Conn.

For all of 1985, GAF's net earnings totaled $77.6 million ($4.50) and sales came to $732 million. Excluding credits, last year's net was $54.3 million ($3.01).

In 1984, GAF earned $56.7 million ($3.70) on sales of $731.3 million. Credits that year came to $15.7 million, reducing net income to $41 million ($2.30).