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American Reports a $452 Million Loss

American Airlines, the second biggest carrier, joined Delta and AirTran in reporting a first-quarter loss.
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said its first quarter loss increased due to rising fuel prices and the slow economy.

Excluding items, the carrier lost $452 million, or $1.36 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated a loss of $1.31 a share. Revenue rose 4.7% to $5.1 billion, in line with estimates. In the same quarter a year earlier, excluding items, American lost $362 million, or $1.30 a share.

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Including the impact of a charge of $53 million, or 16 cents a share, related to the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency in January, American lost $505 million, or $1.52 cents a share, during the quarter. In the first quarter of 2009, including items, American lost $375 million, or $1.35 a share.

"While we made significant progress in improving revenue performance in the first quarter and enhancing our competitive position, we were simply unable to overcome the challenges of the global economic environment coupled with once-again escalating fuel prices," said CEO Gerard Arpey, in a prepared statement.

During the quarter, consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile grew 7.3%, while mainline PRASM grew 6.8%. International PRASM grew by 8.4%. Winter weather and natural disasters in Haiti and Chile reduced revenue by $20 million to $25 million. Mainline capacity diminished by 2.5%, while mainline load factor grew by 2.2 points to 77.9%.

On the cost side, mainline cost per available seat mile excluding fuel increased by 5.7%, primarily as a result of capacity reductions, maintenance events that were completed earlier than planned and revenue-related expenses. American paid $211 million more for fuel in the first quarter than it would have paid at first quarter 2009 prices.

At the end of the quarter, American had $5 billion in cash and short-term investments, compared with $3.3 billion a year earlier. Total debt was $15.9 billion, up from $14.4 billion.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.