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American Airlines reports $19 million profit, first since pandemic began

Fort Worth-based American Airlines reported an income of $19 million after factoring in special credits from the government's Payroll Support Program Agreements.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth-based American Airlines on Thursday reported its first profit since the onset of the pandemic, as airline travel continued to increase in the spring and summer, according to the company's quarterly earnings report. 

American reported an income of $19 million after factoring in $1.4 billion in special credits, including from the government's Payroll Support Program Agreements.

Without those credits, American had a loss of $1.1 billion.

Still, revenues jumped sharply in the second quarter to $7.5 billion, up 87% from about $4 billion in the first quarter and up from $1.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

American also reported a company-record $21.3 billion in liquidity.

“We have reshaped our network, simplified our fleet and made our cost structure more efficient, all to create an airline that will outperform competitors and deliver for customers," American CEO Doug Parker said in a press release on the earnings. "The green flag has dropped and we are ready thanks to the tremendous efforts and dedication of the American Airlines team.”

Thursday's earnings report marked a continued bounceback for American and the airline industry as a whole, as more travelers returned to the skies this spring and summer.

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American's passenger load for the second quarter was 85% on domestic flights, up from 44.1% in the second quarter of 2020. By comparison, American's passenger load on domestic flights in the second quarter of 2019 was 88.2%.

Passenger load for international flights is still far from normal 2019 levels -- 52.9% in this year's second quarter, compared to 83.8% in 2019 -- but those numbers are up from 25.9% in 2020.

American's highest passenger load for international flights was to Latin America at 70.6%.

American's daily cash burn turned positive in the second quarter, from a burn rate of $27 million per day in the first quarter to a build rate of $1 million per day in the second quarter.

American officials on Thursday touted the company's expanded routes and destinations, including 150 new routes this summer and more connections in Miami, Austin and Orlando.

Austin, in particular, is getting 10 new domestic and four new international destinations this fall.

American said it expects to fill more than 90% of its capacity on domestic flights this summer and 80% of capacity on international flights, both figures compared to 2019 capacity levels.