FORT WORTH, Texas – AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines, Inc., today reported a net loss of $340 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, or $1.22 per share.
The results for the fourth quarter of 2008 include the impact of two special charges: a $23 million charge for aircraft groundings, facility write-offs and severance related to the Company’s previously announced capacity reductions during the last four months of 2008, and a non-cash pension settlement charge of $103 million driven by a large number of early pilot retirements during 2008, which required any unrecognized gains or losses of the related defined benefit pension plan to be recognized on a proportional basis.
Excluding those special charges, the Company lost $214 million, or $0.77 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The current quarter results compare to a net loss of $69 million for the fourth quarter of 2007, or $0.28 per share, which included: a $138 million gain on the sale of AMR’s stake in ARINC; a $39 million gain from the change to the expiration period for AAdvantage® miles; and a $63 million charge from the retirement of 24 MD-80 aircraft. Excluding those special items, AMR lost $184 million, or $0.74 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2007.
For all of 2008, AMR recorded a net loss of $2.1 billion, or $7.98 per share. In addition to the special charges from the fourth quarter of 2008 totaling approximately $126 million, the full-year results include: a $432 million gain from the sale of American Beacon Advisors; facility, severance and aircraft grounding charges of approximately $91 million, and non-cash aircraft and route impairment charges of approximately $1.1 billion related to the Company’s capacity reductions in late 2008. Excluding those special items, AMR lost $1.2 billion, or $4.57 per share, for all of 2008.
In 2007, AMR reported a net profit of $504 million, or $1.78 per diluted share. In addition to the special items in the fourth quarter of 2007 totaling a net positive impact of $115 million, the 2007 results included a $30 million charge related to prior-period salary and benefit expense accruals. Excluding those special items, AMR earned a profit of $420 million, or $1.50 per diluted share, in 2007.
Historically high and volatile jet fuel prices continued to challenge the Company in the fourth quarter of 2008. AMR paid $2.60 per gallon for jet fuel in the fourth quarter versus $2.41 a gallon in the fourth quarter of 2007, an 8 percent increase. The Company paid a record $3.03 per gallon for jet fuel for all of 2008, compared to $2.13 for all of 2007, an increase of 42 percent. As a result, the Company paid $133 million and $2.7 billion more for fuel in the fourth quarter and for all of 2008, respectively, than it would have paid at prevailing prices from the corresponding prior-year periods.
“Our fourth quarter and full-year 2008 results reflect the difficulties all airlines faced last year, but we believe our steps to reduce capacity, bolster liquidity, and improve revenue helped us better manage the challenges of record fuel prices and a weak economy,” said AMR Chairman and CEO Gerard Arpey. “We believe these actions and our fleet renewal efforts have put us on sounder footing as we face continued economic uncertainty, slower travel demand, and fuel price volatility in 2009. We intend to continue managing our business - from capacity and fleet planning to balance sheet repair, fuel hedging and revenue initiatives - conservatively and with discipline. I want to thank employees for their commitment during a difficult 2008. While significant hurdles remain, I am guardedly optimistic we can regain momentum in 2009.”
Arpey added that American expects to enhance its global network in 2009 by achieving regulatory approval of its antitrust immunity application with fellow oneworld members, which will pave the way for American’s planned joint business agreement with British Airways and Iberia and help oneworld compete more effectively with other global alliances. The Company also hopes to build on the beginning strides it made last year to improve dependability and the customer experience, Arpey said.
AMR today provided an update to the delivery schedule for the incoming 76 Boeing 737-800 aircraft that will replace MD-80 aircraft in American’s fleet. As a result of Boeing delivery delays, the Company now expects to receive 29 737s in 2009 (compared to 36 expected previously), 39 in 2010 (compared to 40 expected previously) and eight in the first quarter of 2011. The first deliveries are expected near the end of the first quarter of 2009.
As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the economic climate, the Company has decided not to use MD-80s to backfill flying associated with the seven 737s that no longer will be delivered in 2009. Largely as a result of this decision, the Company’s 2009 mainline capacity will decline by more than one percentage point compared to previous guidance provided in October. (Capacity expectations for 2009 are outlined in the Guidance section below.)
Financial and Operational Performance
American’s mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile (unit revenue), excluding special items, increased by 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the year-ago quarter.
Mainline capacity, or total available seat miles, in the fourth quarter decreased by 8.3 percent compared to the same period in 2007, as the Company continued to reduce capacity given economic conditions and still-challenging fuel prices.
American's mainline load factor – or the percentage of total seats filled – was 78.3 percent during the fourth quarter, its third-highest fourth quarter load factor ever, compared to a record 80.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. American’s fourth-quarter yield, which represents average fares paid, excluding special items, increased 8.1 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, its 15th consecutive quarter of year-over-year yield increases.
AMR reported fourth quarter consolidated revenues of approximately $5.5 billion, a decrease of 3.1 percent from the same period in 2007 (which excludes special items from 2007), as consolidated passenger revenue declined 3.9 percent year over year on less capacity and traffic, and cargo revenue declined 13.9 percent largely due to the economy.
Other revenues, including sales from such sources as confirmed flight changes, purchased upgrades, Buy-on-Board food services, and bag fees, increased 9.7 percent year over year to $545 million in the fourth quarter, compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.
AMR reported full-year 2008 revenues of approximately $23.8 billion, an increase of 3.8 percent compared to 2007 (which excludes special items from 2007).
American’s mainline cost per available seat mile (unit cost) in the fourth quarter, excluding special items, increased 6.8 percent year over year. Excluding fuel and special items, mainline unit costs in the fourth quarter increased by 6.8 percent year over year. The fourth quarter increase in mainline unit costs was driven by costs related to the Company’s capacity reductions in late 2008, as well as higher material and repair costs, and foreign exchange expense.
Balance Sheet Update
AMR continued to focus on strengthening its balance sheet in the fourth quarter.
AMR ended the fourth quarter with $3.6 billion in cash and short-term investments, including a restricted balance of $459 million, compared to a balance of $5.0 billion in cash and short-term investments, including a restricted balance of $428 million, at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007. In line with previously disclosed expectations, AMR had posted approximately $575 million in cash collateral with fuel hedge counterparties at the end of the fourth quarter of 2008. Also affecting the 2008 year-end cash balance were more than $1 billion in scheduled principal payments on long-term debt and capital leases and approximately $880 million in capital expenditures that the Company made during the year, and the $2.7 billion increase in its 2008 fuel costs compared to 2007 fuel prices.
In spite of increasingly challenging capital and credit markets, during 2008 AMR raised nearly $2 billion from a variety of sources, including: the sale of American Beacon Advisors, an equity sale of common stock; a draw on its revolving line of credit; and aircraft-related financings, including approximately $200 million from an aircraft sale-leaseback transaction that closed in the fourth quarter of 2008. The Company also arranged financing, subject to certain conditions, for the majority of the 76 Boeing 737-800s it has scheduled for delivery.
AMR’s Total Debt, which it defines as the aggregate of its long-term debt, capital lease obligations, the principal amount of airport facility tax-exempt bonds, and the present value of aircraft operating lease obligations, was $15.1 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to $15.6 billion a year earlier. AMR’s Net Debt, which it defines as Total Debt less unrestricted cash and short-term investments, was $12.0 billion at the end of the fourth quarter, compared to $11.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007.
AMR made the full amount of its required $78 million of contributions to its defined benefit pension plans for employees during 2008. The Company has contributed more than $2 billion to these plans since 2002, as the Company continues to meet this important commitment to employees.
Fourth Quarter 2008 and Recent
· American entered into a purchase agreement with Boeing to acquire an initial 42 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with the right to purchase up to 58 additional 787s. The purchase of the initial 42 787-9 aircraft is subject to certain contingency provisions. American believes the 787s will help reduce its fuel and maintenance costs, lessen its environmental impact, and support its goal of providing industry-leading products and services over the long term.
Mainline and Consolidated Capacity
AMR expects its full-year mainline capacity to decrease by more than 6.5 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, with a reduction of domestic capacity of approximately 9 percent and a reduction of international capacity of more than 2.5 percent compared to 2008 levels. On a consolidated basis, AMR expects full-year capacity to decrease by nearly 7 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.
AMR expects mainline capacity in the first quarter of 2009 to decrease by more than 8.5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008, with domestic capacity expected to decline by more than 11.5 percent and international capacity expected to decline by nearly 4 percent compared to first quarter 2008 levels. AMR expects consolidated capacity in the first quarter of 2009 to decrease by more than 8.5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008.
AMR expects regional affiliate capacity to decline by about 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the prior-year period and expects full-year regional affiliate capacity to decline by more than 8 percent in 2009 compared to 2008 levels.
Fuel Expense and Hedging
While the cost of jet fuel remains volatile, AMR is planning for an average system price of $2.04 per gallon in the first quarter of 2009 and $2.06 per gallon for all of 2009. AMR has 45 percent of its anticipated first quarter 2009 fuel consumption hedged at an average cap of $2.58 per gallon of jet fuel equivalent ($93 per barrel crude equivalent), with 42 percent subject to an average floor of $1.97 per gallon of jet fuel equivalent ($68 per barrel crude equivalent). AMR has 35 percent of its anticipated full-year consumption hedged at an average cap of $2.59 per gallon of jet fuel equivalent ($94 per barrel crude equivalent), with 32 percent subject to an average floor of $1.94 per gallon of jet fuel equivalent ($67 per barrel crude equivalent). As of Jan. 16, the average 2009 market forward price of crude oil was more than $51 per barrel. Consolidated consumption for the first quarter is expected to be 677 million gallons of jet fuel.
Mainline and Consolidated Unit Costs (Excluding the impact of special items)
For the first quarter of 2009, mainline unit costs are expected to decrease 2.9 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008, while first quarter consolidated unit costs are expected to decrease 3.2 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008.
In the first quarter of 2009, mainline unit costs excluding fuel are expected to increase 10.2 percent year over year while consolidated unit costs excluding fuel are expected to increase 9 percent from the first quarter of 2008.
Full-year mainline unit costs are expected to decrease 6.6 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, while full-year consolidated unit costs are expected to decrease 7.1 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.
AMR expects mainline unit costs excluding fuel to be 9.2 percent higher in 2009 versus 2008, while 2009 consolidated unit costs excluding fuel are expected to increase 7.6 percent year over year.
Factors driving the 2009 unit cost increases include: increased defined benefit pension expenses and employee and retiree medical expenses; unit cost pressure associated with capacity reductions in 2009 that were announced today, including increased facility and landing fees; and dependability initiatives.
The largest factor driving increased unit costs is higher pension expense, largely the result of negative investment returns on the Company’s pension assets in 2008 related to the broader stock market decline. At the end of 2008, the accumulated benefit obligation (ABO) funded status of AMR’s pension plans was approximately 69 percent, compared to 96 percent at the end of 2007. While a material decline, the Company maintains a conservative investment portfolio with a significant position in U.S. Treasury and U.S. agency bonds. As a result, the Company believes that its pension funded status declined less than that of many companies with defined benefit pension plans. According to estimates from consulting firm Mercer, the aggregate ABO funded status for plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies (including their U.S. and non-U.S. plans) declined by approximately 33 percentage points from year-end 2007 to year-end 2008.