Transportation

American Airlines reports losses of nearly $1B in fourth quarter

Greg Nash

American Airlines reported $931 million in losses in the fourth quarter of 2021 as the travel industry reels from difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline did, however, report that it safely transported more than 165 million passengers over the past year, which it said topped that of all other U.S. carriers.

The company had $15.8 billion in total available liquidity at the end of the fourth quarter, which was the highest year-end liquidity balance it reported in the history of the company.

Looking ahead, American Airlines said it expected its first-quarter total revenue in the new year to be down roughly 20 to 22 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019. The company also said it is anticipating that first-quarter capacity will be down between 8 and 10 percent compared to levels in the beginning of 2019.

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said the company is “incredibly proud” of its team following the second year of operating during a pandemic.

He noted the volatility that has marked the past year for the airline, which created a difficult environment when it came to planning.

“Over the past year, we have experienced periods of high travel demand countered by periods of decreased demand due to new COVID-19 variants. This volatility has created the most challenging planning environment in the history of commercial aviation,” Parker said in a statement.

“Yet the American team has delivered, growing back faster and further than any other U.S. airline to meet this unpredictable demand,” he added.

Parker is set to step down from the CEO role in March, handing the reins to the company’s president, Robert Isom.

The aviation industry suffered a difficult holiday season, with airlines forced to cancel flights because of staffing shortages despite high demand for travel. A surge in COVID-19 cases driven in part by the highly transmissible omicron variant drove the low staff numbers, in addition to inclement weather throughout the nation.

United Airlines announced on Wednesday that it lost $646 million in the fourth quarter, according to The Associated Press. The company also predicted that fewer people than hoped will be flying in the first half of 2022 because of the omicron surge.

Last week, Delta Air Lines said it lost $408 million in the last quarter of 2021.

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