After a 2020 in which American Airlines saw billions in losses, the company has gone from losing $100million a day at the worst of the pandemic to making $1million a day, according to a quarterly investor update on Tuesday.
Still, the nation’s largest airline is projecting a $1.3billion operating loss for the entire period.
‘While that is certainly a large loss, it is our smallest such loss since the start of the pandemic,’ Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said.
In 2020, the company saw a total operating loss of $10.4billion for the year.
News of the turnaround saw shares of American, which have jumped nearly 27% in 2021, rise 2% to $20.43 in extended trade.
American Airlines’ turnaround comes as people are returning to the skies, with the airline reporting 44million passengers for its second quarter. Travelers are seen lining up at O’Hare airport in Chicago on July 2
The company flew more than 44 million passengers in the first quarter, more than five times higher than last year, and forecast a daily cash build of $1 million for the period, ending it with more than $21 billion of total available liquidity.
‘The improved liquidity is encouraging because it suggests that forward bookings are also strong,’ Cowen analyst Helane Becker said.
‘This suggests we turned the corner in the domestic market and we should see improving sequential quarter results.’
Earnings per share also have seen a steady improvement from a low of negative $7.82 at the worst of the pandemic to negative $4.32 at the end of the first quarter, with analysts projecting a near return to positive earnings by the end of 2021, according to Marketbeat.
While the analysts said it was an encouraging sign, it’s still a far cry from 2019, when the company posted a $3.1billion profit.
News of the turnaround saw shares of American Airlines, which have jumped nearly 27% in 2021, rise 2% to $20.43 in extended trade
American still has a ways to go to return to the profitability it saw before the pandemic, with the company posting a total loss of $10.4billion for 2020
Earnings per share also have seen a steady improvement from a low of negative $7.82 at the worst of the pandemic to negative $4.32 at the end of the first quarter, with analysts projecting a near return to positive earnings by the end of 2021
Back then, however, the company did not report its daily profits.
American also said in a regulatory filing that it expects to report something between a loss of $35 million and a profit of $25 million for the second quarter. That includes the taxpayer-funded pandemic aid.
American’s good news came as Delta Air Lines reported its first quarterly profit since the pandemic devastated the airline industry more than a year ago.
Delta said Wednesday that it earned $652million in the second quarter. However, Delta’s report shows that airlines still face turbulence as they try to rebound from their worst year ever.
Without $1. billion in federal pandemic relief and other one-time events, the Atlanta airline would have posted an adjusted loss of $678million.
Even though crowds at the nation’s airports are approaching 2019 levels, Delta’s operating revenue is still only half of pre-pandemic levels.
And the company expects costs to rise as it rebuilds its operation, including hiring and training employees to handle the growing number of passengers.
‘We still have a long ways to go,’ CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview, ‘but the business is in a much, much better place than it was 90 days ago. We posted a solid profit in the month of June, and it augurs well for where we’re going this summer.’
Despite the turnaround, American is continuing to struggle to meet demand as it contends with a pilot shortage after furloughing 1,600 pilots during the pandemic
News of American Airlines’ turnaround came as it struggled to meet surging travel demand amid a pilot shortage, and cut hundreds of flights in July.
Travel is rising, with 9.8million Americans flying between July 2 and July 6 – three times as many as in the same period last year. It was still 3million off the 12.5million who flew over the Fourth of July weekend in 2019.
But on July 5 alone American cut 82 flights amid the holiday weekend peak.
A spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, the union which represents American’s 15,000 pilots, told DailyMail.com in late June that the airline is suffering a major staffing shortage after furloughing 1,600 pilots during the pandemic.
American had scheduled around 5,800 flights a day through July, about 87 percent of its schedule for the same period in 2019, according to data from aviation researcher Cirium.
The issue is more flights being scheduled to meet passenger demand, without enough staff there to run them. Pilots say the problem lies with a lack of training.
‘Many U.S. airlines are seeing increased flight demand and thanks to the Payroll Support Program, APA pilots are on the job and ready for takeoff.
‘However, everyone has to do their part. Airline training departments must deal with increased flight schedules, and we believe that most should be able to predict and respond appropriately to retraining demands.
Travel is on the up, with 9.8million Americans flying between July 2nd and July 6th – three times as many as in the same period last year. It was still 3million off the 12.5million who flew over the Fourth of July weekend in 2019.
‘We are actively working with the airlines to ensure that the investments made in our industry help fuel the economic recovery, continue to produce an adequate supply of highly-trained pilots and keep flying safe,’ a spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association told DailyMail.com.
Not every airline laid-off staff in the pandemic. It was only American that furloughed pilots.
All of those pilots need to be retrained before they can fly again and that could take months.
Captain Dennis Tajer, who has been an American pilot for more than 20 years, told DailyMail.com last month: ‘It’s surreal. This time last year we were canceling flights because there weren’t enough passengers.
‘Now we’re canceling flights because there aren’t enough pilots.’