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Parent of American Airlines posts US$220m profit

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American Airlines aims to come roaring back out of bankruptcy protection. It’s boosting the amount of flying it will do this year, and it posted a US$220 million profit for the quarter that ended June 30. CEO Tom Horton said in an interview that the airline is still on track to merge with US Airways Group Inc. by the end of September. It’s the first time in six years that American has reported a profit during the April-June quarter. During the same period last year, it lost US$241 million, mostly because of bankruptcy related expenses.

Revenue was steady at about US$6.45 billion. AMR Corp. has been operating under bankruptcy protection since late 2011. It has cut the size of its workforce, reduced pay for those who remain, and slashed other expenses. Spending for wages was 18 per cent lower than a year ago. Fuel expenses fell 3 per cent as the price of fuel dropped. The number of workers fell by almost 7 per cent from a year earlier, to 73,000. American says it will expand flying capacity 1.5 per cent this year, not counting increases from the merger with US Airways. The 2013 increase includes a 2.7 per cent jump in the third quarter. The latest increase is because of longer average flights, and new flights — or bigger planes — on routes to South Korea, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Other big US airlines have been cautious about growth, with Delta shrinking through the first half of this year. United may shrink almost 2 per cent this year. American’s growth plans are “still pretty modest and still in line with the growth opportunities here in the US and around the world,” Horton said. The most recent quarter included US$137 million in bankruptcy expenses and special items. Without those it would have earned US$357 million. American said it is making progress in adding a coach section of seats with more legroom, for which it will charge extra. The changes have been made on nearly all of the mainline planes it uses for domestic flights, except for about 5 percent of its Boeing 737s. Horton said he’ll be going to Hamburg, Germany, this week, to take delivery of American’s first new Airbus A319. It will be the first time American will have Airbus planes since retiring its last A300 in 2009.