American Airlines reported a third-quarter profit of $169 million after collecting nearly $1 billion in federal pandemic aid, and it expects big crowds and more flights during the upcoming holidays.
The airline felt the late-summer impact of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, which caused a slowdown in bookings and a rise in cancellations across the industry. "While the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant delayed some of our revenue recovery, it has not stopped our progress,'' said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. American said Thursday that it expects fourth-quarter revenue to be down 20 per cent compared with the same quarter in pre-pandemic 2019.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said passenger-carrying capacity in the fourth quarter will be only 11 per cent to 13 per cent below than the third quarter of 2019.
American plans to operate more than 6,000 flights a day during peak days in the fourth quarter. That compares with an average of just more than 5,600 flights a day during the third quarter, which included most of the summer vacation season.
Parker said that steps to pare its fleet of planes and reduce costs — thousands of workers quit last year — have left American in good position "as the recovery takes hold." American's profit of $169 million was possible because of USD 992 million in federal pandemic relief. Without taxpayer help, and other special items, American would have lost $641 million, or 99 cents per share.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected American to lose $1.04 per share.
Revenue was $8.97 billion. That was slightly better than analysts' mean forecast of USD 8.92 billion, but it was down 25 per cent from the same quarter in 2019, a sign of how far airlines still have to go to fully recover from the pandemic.
Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. rose 1 per cent in early trading before Thursday's session.
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