American Airlines Group (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report said Friday that beginning July 1 it will stop restricting the number of seats sold on flights, dropping the limits on passenger loads implemented as social distancing measures against the coronavirus pandemic.
Shares of the Fort Worth, Texas, carrier at last check were off 5.4% to $12.46. Stocks overall were sinking Friday as the U.S. set a record for the number of new coronavirus infections.
"As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1," the airline said in a statement.
"American will continue to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost."
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday was scheduled to meet with the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report Southwest Airlines (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, United Airlines (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) - Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report. All the air carriers's shares were falling Friday.
Pence and the executives were to discuss the travel restrictions placed on U.S. travelers by Europe, implementing temperature checks at U.S. airports, contact-tracing airline passengers, and the likely impact of coronavirus on travel demand, according to Reuters.
American was previously limiting its seating capacity to 85% on each flight, or roughly half the main-cabin middle seats.
Starting June 30, American said it would begin asking customers during the check-in process to certify that they have been free of covid-19 symptoms for the prior 14 days.
American also said it was creating a travel health advisory panel that included Vanderbilt University Medical Center "to advise on health and cleaning matters."
Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have said they would keep middle seats open through Sept. 30. Southwest Airlines said it would block middle seats unless customers are traveling together.
The airline industry has suffered since March when the pandemic began to take hold. American posted a loss of $2.2 billion for the first quarter as the industry was decimated when people stopped traveling.
American said this week that it planned to raise $3 billion by selling shares and convertible senior notes, half of those due in 2025 and the other half later than that. It also intends to enter a new $500 million term loan facility due 2024.
The U.S. has the highest number of coronavirus cases at 2.42 million and the greatest number of deaths at 124,424.