Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
The nation's No. 3 airline is doing better than a year ago, thanks to higher fares and money from extra fees, but it's still losing money while larger rivals United Continental and Delta are profitable again. However, Fort Worth-based American Airlines says things are looking up.
While that may sound like a lot, the .29 cents per share loss represents a $247 million improvement over the same period in 2009 when the company lost $344 million.
“2010 has been a year of significant improvement for American Airlines, and I want to thank all of our people for their hard work and dedication,” said Gerard Arpey, AMR’s Chief Executive Officer. “It was a year of major progress, as we have implemented both our domestic cornerstone strategy and our joint trans-Atlantic business with British Airways and Iberia – and we look forward to launching a similar joint business with Japan Airlines across the Pacific in April of this year.”
Without a write-down of some routes, AMR lost 21 cents per share. Analysts, who usually ignore items, expected a loss of 26 cents per share, according to FactSet.
Revenue was better than expected -- $5.59 billion, compared with analysts' forecast of $5.47 billion. Revenue for 2010 was over $22 billion, up 11 percent over 2009.
With the losses, AMR continues to lag other airlines. Delta said Tuesday that it earned $19 million in the fourth quarter, and analysts expect other big U.S. airlines to post profits.
Analysts said they expect American will turn a profit in 2011.
"What's helping American this coming year is the fact that their alliances have been approved. The alliance with British Airways as well as the one with Japan Airlines for the trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic routes. That's supposed to bring in more revenue to the airline as well," said Andrea Ahles, Star-Telegram aviation writer.
Meanwhile, American says it's talking with Expedia and Orbitz about getting its flights listed again on the online travel agencies' websites.
On Tuesday, American signed a deal with priceline.com for the tickets site to use American's in-house technology to access its fares.