American Airlines is making money again and beating expectations after its merger with US Airways.
The company posted earnings of $480 million Thursday, a record for the first quarter, which is usually the weakest three-month period for airlines during the year. As separate airlines, American and US Airways lost $297 million a year earlier.
The profit was helped by the sale of takeoff and landing slots at Washington's Reagan National Airport. American and US Airways agreed to sell the slots to settle a government antitrust lawsuit that threatened to block the merger.
Excluding that sale and other items, the combined airline would have earned $402 million, or 54 cents per share, topping analyst projections for 48 cents per share.
Revenue rose 5.6 percent to $10 billion. Analysts expected $10.02 billion, according to a FactSet survey.
American Airlines Group Inc., formed by the December merger, is the largest airline in the world. CEO Doug Parker, who previously ran US Airways, said in a message to employees that, "In the entire history of American Airlines, we have never earned $400 million in the first three months of a year, but in the first three months since the merger, we did."
Shares of the Fort Worth, Texas, company rose 52 cents to $37.61 in premarket trading. At Wednesday's closing price, they were up 47 percent this year.