American Airlines looks to 2021 as ‘year of recovery’

The 12 months ahead will be a “year of recovery” from the Covid-19 crisis for American Airlines after revealing a $2.2 billion loss for the final quarter of 2020.

Revenue for the Christmas quarter fell 64% year-on-year as the US giant fell to an annual loss of $9.5 billion.

First-quarter capacity is expected to be down 45% over the same period in 2019, with total revenue expected to fall between 60%-65%.

American said: “The company will continue to match its forward capacity with observed bookings trends.”

The carrier plans $1.3 billion in cost cuts this year despite expecting to end the first three months of 2021 with $15 billion of liquidity.

American received $9 billion in state aid gained access to $7.5 billion-worth of loans in the wake of the pandemic hitting.

Reduced flying during 2020 helped remove $17 billion from operating and capital budgets while five aircraft types were retired from service along with a number of older regional aircraft. Certain older Boeing 737-800s were placed into temporary storage.

These changes removed more than 150 aircraft from the fleet and brought forward “significant cost savings and efficiencies” associated with operating fewer aircraft types.

A deal was agreed with Boeing to defer deliveries of 18 Boeing 737 Max aircraft and while a series of sale-leaseback transactions were secured to finance Airbus A321 deliveries in 2021.

A total of 19 international routes from six hubs are being withdrawn from the network this year.

More than 20,000 staff took partially paid long-term leave or took a voluntary ‘early out’ option while management and support roles were cut by 30%.

Furlough was used to reduce headcount with those involved having sine had their pay and benefits reinstated through the extension of a US government Covid-19 relief package that renewed a payroll support programme until March 31.

Chairman and chief executive Doug Parker said: “Our fourth-quarter financial results close out the most challenging year in our company’s history.

“As we look to the year ahead, 2021 will be a year of recovery. While we don’t know exactly when passenger demand will return, as vaccine distribution takes hold and travel restrictions are lifted, we will be ready.

“We are confident that the actions we have taken to improve our customer experience, enhance our network and increase our efficiency position us well for the future.”

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