American Airlines parent AMR ( AMR) said record fuel prices led to a $69 million loss in the fourth quarter, ending its string of consecutive profits at six.

American, the world's biggest airline, was the first of the major carriers to report quarterly results, and the fuel-related loss will undoubtedly set the stage for the rest of the group, whose members will post their numbers during the next two weeks.

Revenue was $5.6 billion, up 4.6% from a year ago. The loss after special items was 74 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected a loss of 75 cents on revenue of $5.7 billion.

Mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 4.5%. Capacity rose 0.4%. Load factor was a record 80.2%, and yield was up 2.6%.

On the cost side, rising fuel expenses resulted in a mainline cost per available seat mile increase of 8.6%. Fuel for mainline operations cost $367 million more than it would have at fourth-quarter 2006 rates. Consolidated fuel expense was $412 million higher.

Excluding fuel and special items, mainline CASM climbed 0.6%. The increase reflects an accrual for a one-time bonus of $800 that was paid to many employees.

Looking ahead, the carrier expects current-quarter mainline CASM to rise by 13.1%, reflecting higher fuel costs, even though 35% of first-quarter fuel consumption is capped at an equivalent of $77 a barrel.

Mainline capacity is expected to go up 1% this year, with a 0.4% reduction in domestic capacity and a 3.3% increase in international capacity. Consolidated capacity is expected to rise by 0.9%. The increases largely reflect the impact of last year's weather cancellations that caused American to fly less.

Despite the fourth-quarter loss, AMR reported earnings of $504 million in 2007, recording a second consecutive annual profit for the first time since 1999-2000.