American Airlines turns small profit with taxpayers’ help

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American Airlines is reporting a small profit in the second quarter, thanks to nearly $1.5 billion in federal pandemic relief

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines eked out a second-quarter profit of $19 million, its first since the pandemic started, thanks to nearly $1.5 billion in federal relief.

American’s revenue jumped more than four-fold from a year ago, but was down 37% from the same quarter in 2019.

Excluding American’s share of $54 billion in federal relief to help airlines cover payroll costs, and other special items, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier would have lost $1.1 billion. That is American’s smallest adjusted loss in any quarter since 2019.

“We have taken a number of steps to solidify our business … and it shows in our second-quarter results,” CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo to employees.

The number of airline passengers flying in the U.S. each day has been rising for more than a year and recently hit 2 million, or about 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Domestic leisure travel is roughly back to normal, but business and international travelers — key customers for American and other huge U.S. airlines — are still mostly absent.

American has been adding back flights that were cut last year. After convincing thousands of employees to quit or take voluntary leave in 2020, it has recently announced plans to bulk up staffing by recalling 3,300 flight attendants later this year and hiring 350 pilots this year and more than 1,000 next year.

American’s profit equaled 3 cents per share. The adjusted loss of $1.1 billion equaled $1.69 per share, which was not as bad as the $2.03 per share loss expected by analysts, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue surged to $7.48 billion, beating the analysts’ prediction of $7.32 billion.

In trading before the opening bell, shares of American Airlines Group Inc. fell 1%.

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