American Airlines Posts Profit Thanks to Federal Aid, Revenue Improves

American Airlines plane
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  • American said it expects its fourth-quarter revenue will fall about 20% from 2019.
  • Revenue improved sharply from last year.
  • The carrier said it projects its capacity to be down 11% to 13% in the fourth quarter of 2021.

American Airlines on Thursday reported a $169 million profit for the third quarter thanks to more than $990 million in federal payroll support.

Revenue for the quarter totaled $8.97 billion down about 25% from the same period of 2019 but up from the $3.17 billion American brought in a year ago. That was ahead of analysts' expectations of sales of $8.94 billion. Without one-time items, like government payroll support, American had a loss of 99 cents per share, less than the $1.04 per-share loss analysts expected.

"While we don't like reporting losses, this was our smallest quarterly loss since the pandemic began," American's CEO, Doug Parker, and the carrier's president, Robert Isom, wrote in a note to employees.

American's shares were up 1.2% in late-morning trading.

For the fourth quarter, American expects its revenue to fall by about 20% from 2019, when it generated $11.3 billion. It also said its capacity will be down 11% to 13% compared with two years ago.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline forecast pretax margins, excluding special items, in the fourth quarter to be between negative 16% and negative 18%.

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