American Airlines’ quarterly loss better than expected, shares jump By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: First U.S. commercial flight of a Boeing 737 MAX, since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, lands in New York

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(Reuters) – American Airlines (NASDAQ:) Group Inc posted a slimmer-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday and joined rival Delta Air Lines (NYSE:) in calling 2021 a year of recovery for an industry that has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker said.

Shares surged 60% in premarket trading.

American reported a net loss of $2.18 billion, or $3.81 per share, for the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $414 million, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company lost $3.86 per share. Analysts on average expected the company to lose $4.11 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Total operating revenue fell to $4.03 billion from $11.31 billion but topped analysts’ expectations of $3.88 billion.

The carrier reported an annual loss of $8.9 billion, its biggest on record.

Airlines are hoping that sentiment will improve this year as COVID-19 vaccines are more widely distributed. However, new strains of the virus have triggered tighter rules for international travel in countries including the United States.

American Airlines ended the fourth quarter with about $14.3 billion in available liquidity.

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