The first signs of a financial turnaround have emerged at American Airlines eight months after it filed for bankruptcy protection.

Second quarter revenue rose 5.5% to a record $6.46 billion as fares rose and more passengers were carried.

Parent company AMR narrowed its quarterly loss to $241 million from $286 million a year ago.

Excluding bankruptcy-related costs ranging from employee severance obligations to legal fees, the carrier said it would have earned $95 million — its first operating profit for the early-summer quarter since 2007.

Average fares increased 7% over the same period last year helped by an increase in business travel accounts and revenue-sharing ventures with British Airways, Iberia and Japan Airlines.

Chief executive Thomas Horton called the quarter an “exceptional improvement.”

He said restructuring was just starting to take hold and that momentum would build until “American re-emerges as an industry leader”.

The figures were released as US Airways chairman and chief executive Doug Parker further increased pressure for a merger with American.

Speaking at the National Press Club Luncheon in Washington, Parker highlighted the “real advantages” of combining airlines for employees, customers and communities.

“We’ve taken a long, hard look at American, and we know that together we can build the greatest airline in the world – an airline that can compete more effectively with the networks of United, Delta and others,” he said.

“Together, American and US Airways can connect more communities and provide greater benefits for American’s creditors and US Airways’ shareholders than either airline could on a standalone basis.

“Furthermore, we would also save thousands of jobs and offer better compensation and long-term opportunities for employees of both airlines.”

Parker added: “All that we want is a fair chance to present our plan, and to compare it to all others in a process that doesn’t disadvantage any of the options, and that determines the best plan based on what is best for the owners of AMR – its creditors.

“We understand there may be as many as four other airlines included in this merger analysis project, and we welcome the competition.

“We are certain that any objective analysis will conclude that the best plan for the creditors, employees and customers of American is a merger with US Airways during the bankruptcy process.”