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American Airlines Group reports fourth quarter and full year 2018 profit

American Airlines Group Inc. today reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results, including these highlights:

  • Reported a fourth-quarter 2018 pre-tax profit of $387 million, or $634 million excluding net special items1, and a fourth-quarter net profit of $319 million, or $481 million excluding net special items1,3
  • Reported a full-year 2018 pre-tax profit of $1.9 billion, or $2.8 billion excluding net special items2, and a full-year net profit of $1.4 billion, or $2.1 billion excluding net special items2,3
  • Fourth-quarter earnings were $0.69 per diluted share, or $1.04 per diluted share excluding net special items. Full-year 2018 earnings were $3.03 per diluted share, or $4.55 per diluted share excluding net special items.
  • Accrued $175 million for the company’s profit sharing program in 2018, including $40 million in the fourth quarter
  • Returned $986 million to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases in 2018

“We thank our team for taking care of our customers during the busy holiday travel period. Their efforts led to significant improvements in key operational metrics and great customer service. We also completed a number of important merger integration projects that will serve us well in the future,” Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said.

“We enter 2019 with great momentum. We are intent upon running the most reliable operation in our post-merger history, pursuing high margin growth opportunities at our most profitable hubs, and executing on a number of valuable revenue and cost saving initiatives. We expect our total revenue per available seat mile to grow faster than our network competitors, and to deliver strong pre-tax earnings growth in 2019. At the midpoint of our guidance, 2019 diluted earnings per share excluding special items would increase approximately 40 percent versus 2018.”

Fourth-Quarter Revenue and Expenses

Pre-tax earnings excluding net special items for the fourth quarter of 2018 were $634 million, an $88 million decrease from the fourth quarter of 2017, driven by higher fuel prices.

Continued strength in passenger demand and record passenger yield drove a 3.1 percent year-over-year increase in fourth-quarter 2018 total revenue, to a record $10.9 billion. Driven by a 2.4 percent increase in passenger yield, passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) grew 1.4 percent to 14.59 cents. Cargo revenue was up 3.0 percent to $264 million due to a 9.1 percent increase in yield. Other revenue was up 6.3 percent to $712 million due primarily to higher loyalty revenue. Fourth-quarter total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased by 1.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 on a 1.4 percent increase in total available seat miles.

Total fourth-quarter 2018 operating expenses were $10.4 billion, up 4.2 percent year-over-year, driven by a 19.6 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense. Had fuel prices remained unchanged versus the fourth quarter of 2017, total fourth-quarter 2018 expenses would have been approximately $367 million lower. Total fourth-quarter 2018 cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 15.21 cents, up 2.7 percent from fourth quarter 2017. Excluding fuel and special items, consolidated fourth-quarter CASM was 11.32 cents, down 0.2 percent year-over-year.

Strategic Objectives

American’s long-term success is guided and measured by strategic objectives that ensure a healthy, competitive company for the long term: to create a world-class customer experience, make culture a competitive advantage, and build American Airlines to thrive forever by thinking forward and ensuring a strong financial foundation.

Create a World-Class Customer Experience

American has invested more than $25 billion in its team, product and fleet over the past five years – the largest investment of any carrier in commercial aviation history in such a short time. American continues to make large strides in delivering a world-class experience for its customers. In 2018, American:

  • Activated free live TV, now on 270 aircraft. American continues to be the only U.S. carrier to offer live TV on international flights
  • Expanded high-speed Wi-Fi, now on 570 aircraft, allowing customers to stream movies and TV shows. The rest of American’s long-term narrowbody aircraft will receive high-speed Wi-Fi in 2019
  • Launched service on 86 new routes including 14 new destinations, such as Reykjavik, Iceland; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic. In 2019, American will become the only U.S. carrier to travel nonstop to Bologna, Italy and Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Continued to deliver on its product segmentation strategy, expanding Basic Economy to Europe and adding Premium Economy to 103 aircraft. American offers Premium Economy on more aircraft than any other U.S. airline
  • Ordered 47 new Boeing 787s to replace retiring aircraft and keep American’s fleet the youngest among U.S. network airlines
  • Continued to offer a great premium experience on the ground and in the air, including renovating Admirals Club lounges in Miami and Dallas-Fort Worth. In 2019, American will open newly-renovated Admirals Club lounges in Boston, Charlotte and Pittsburgh, as well as a new, world-class premium Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining in Dallas-Fort Worth

Make Culture a Competitive Advantage

Taking care of team members translates into better customer care. American’s culture reflects its emphasis on providing the right tools, training and care for its frontline team members. In 2018, American:

  • Started the year by awarding team members $1,000 each as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
  • Gave team members the opportunity to travel across American’s global network with two free round-trip tickets for the airline being named Air Transport World’s 2017 Airline of the Year
  • Completed flight attendant operational integration, allowing flight attendants to fully intermix across the entire fleet. This integration creates improved scheduling options for flight attendants and the airline, and provides greater flexibility and service recovery during irregular operations
  • Supported the victims of the deadly California wildfires, as American team members conducted one of the airline’s largest disaster relief efforts by assembling 20,000 American Red Cross hygiene kits at its Phoenix cargo facility
  • Donated more than $35 million in cash and travel value across the globe in support of military and veteran’s initiatives, health research, disaster response and children’s well-being
  • Awarded $11 million in cash and recognition points through programs that recognize team members for good work supporting customers and colleagues

Build American Airlines to Thrive Forever

American is building a company that we expect to be consistently profitable today and in the future, making decisions to ensure it is financially strong and forward-thinking. In 2018, American:

  • Returned $986 million to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases in 2018
  • Reported the best year ever at American Airlines Cargo, with a record $1 billion in revenue and 2 billion pounds of freight delivered
  • Ended 2018 with approximately $7.6 billion in total available liquidity, comprised of unrestricted cash and investments of $4.8 billion and $2.8 billion in undrawn revolver capacity. The company also had a restricted cash position of $154 million
  • Instituted the One Airline initiative, producing more than $300 million of cost savings in 2018. The One Airline initiative is designed to drive efficiencies and improve margins through simplifying the operation, improving staffing processes, centralizing internal workflows, and optimizing technology resources
  • Invested $3.7 billion in new aircraft, facilities upgrades for customers and team members, continued integration, and fleet modifications including the narrowbody retrofit program, high-speed Wi-Fi and Premium Economy
  • Broke ground on a $1.6 billion modernization project at Terminals 4 and 5 at Los Angeles International Airport, in partnership with Los Angeles World Airports
  • Unveiled the first new section of Terminal B at LaGuardia. The new concourse includes world-class technology, innovation, and best-in-class amenities. American now occupies three of the 11 gates in the new concourse
  • Was named No. 69, ahead of all other commercial airlines, on The Wall Street Journal’s Management Top 250 list
  • Launched a one-step facial recognition program at Los Angeles Terminal 4, which offers an easier airport experience for customers on select international departures

2019 Focus

In 2019, American is focused on growing revenue, implementing cost improvements and running the most reliable operation in its post-merger history.

  • Extensive revenue initiatives – American expects to achieve $1 billion of revenue improvements in 2019 as it benefits from network optimization, merchandising and product segmentation. American leads the industry in Premium Economy, with the product on more aircraft than any other U.S. carrier. Premium Economy will be expanded to American’s full long-term widebody fleet by mid-2019. American will also add a total of 19 new gates at its Dallas-Fort Worth and Charlotte hubs, creating significant new revenue opportunities
  • Significant cost improvements – American’s 2019 initiatives are expected to produce more than $300 million of cost savings compared to 2018 by eliminating post-merger cost redundancies, leveraging technology efficiencies, and implementing changes to network strategy
  • Improve operational reliability – The airline is intensely focused on operational reliability, with efforts specifically targeting on-time departures, turn times and aircraft out of service

Quarterly Dividend

American declared a dividend of $0.10 per share to be paid on Feb. 20, 2019, to stockholders of record as of Feb. 6, 2019.

Guidance and Investor Update

American expects its first-quarter 2019 TRASM to be flat to up approximately 2.0 percent year-over-year. The company also expects its first-quarter 2019 pre-tax margin excluding net special items to be between 2.5 and 4.5 percent.4 Based on today’s guidance, American expects its 2019 diluted earnings per share excluding net special items to be between $5.50 and $7.50.4

Notes

See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of all GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.

  1. In the fourth quarter, the company recognized $247 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes. Fourth-quarter operating special items of $230 million principally included $146 million of fleet restructuring expenses, $81 million of merger integration expenses and $37 million in severance costs associated with reductions in headcount of management and support staff team members. These charges were offset in part by a $37 million net credit resulting from mark-to-market adjustments on bankruptcy obligations. The company also recognized nonoperating special items of $17 million primarily related to mark-to-market net unrealized losses associated with certain equity investments.
  2. For the full year 2018, the company recognized $906 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes. Total operating special items totaled a net charge of $793 million, which principally included $422 million of fleet restructuring expenses, $268 million of merger integration expenses, $58 million in severance costs as described above, a $45 million litigation settlement, and a $26 million non-cash charge to write off the company’s Brazil route authority intangible asset as a result of the U.S.-Brazil open skies agreement. These charges were offset in part by a $76 million net credit resulting from mark-to-market adjustments on bankruptcy obligations. The company also recognized nonoperating special items of $113 million primarily related to mark-to-market net unrealized losses associated with certain equity investments.
  3. The 2018 fourth quarter income tax special credit of $22 million is the result of the reversal of the valuation allowance previously recognized in the 2018 first quarter related to the company’s estimated refund for Alternative Minimum Tax credits, which is no longer subject to sequestration. The 2018 full year income tax special charge of $18 million is related to an international income tax matter.
  4. American is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP, as the nature or amount of special items cannot be determined at this time.

American Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N308RD (msn 44446) MIA (Andy Cripps). Image: 945356.

Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N308RD (msn 44446) MIA (Andy Cripps). Image: 945356.

American Airlines aircraft slide show (Boeing):

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American Airlines introduces 18 new routes and adds seats to Paris and Madrid

American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N832AA (msn 40638) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 944767.

American Airlines is opening up additional flights to more cities across the U.S. as well as two new flights to Europe.

The 18 new routes start this summer and include a new destination: Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana (FCA), with service from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

The airline is also returning to Canada’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Nova Scotia (YHZ), with service from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and LaGuardia Airport in New York (LGA).

The world’s largest airline is also increasing summer service from DFW to two popular European cities next summer: Paris and Madrid.

All flights will be available for sale Monday, December 17.

More domestic flights from hubs

“With 18 new routes, we are committed to providing the most choices for our customers across the U.S. and a chance to see the world,” said Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning for American. “Service to Kalispell, for example, offers an exciting destination for our customers to experience. It also introduces new opportunities for local Kalispell customers to connect across American’s vast network through LAX, ORD and DFW.”

At the same time, the company is investing to provide a more consistent experience across regional and mainline fleets. American’s dual-class regional aircraft are equipped with first class seats, Wi-Fi and free wireless entertainment, and work has already begun to provide access to power at every seat.

More service from DFW

American continues to grow its largest hub as it increases to 900 flights per day in the summer of 2019 by opening 15 new gates at the Terminal E satellite. American will add five new routes from DFW beginning in April with service to San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) in California. In May, the airline will launch new daily service to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) in South Carolina. Then, in June, in addition to Kalispell, American begins year-round service to Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) in Pennsylvania and daily seasonal service to California’s Wine Country via Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa.

The airline will also add a second daily flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris and Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) starting June 6, providing more choices and connectivity for its customers and cargo, improving what is already the most robust service to those destinations from DFW.

“The additional flights are scheduled to provide more flexibility in a traveler’s day with a later departure from DFW and from CDG, and, in the case of MAD, enable optimal connectivity to Iberia’s network from larger markets such as Sacramento, California (SMF); Reno, Nevada (RNO); and Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL),” said Raja.

Customers flying to CDG and MAD from DFW can choose fully lie-flat business class seats featuring access to the Flagship Lounge and chef-designed meals, as well as a lumbar support pillow and duvet from sleep experts Casper. Or, they can opt for one of more than 20 Premium Economy seats featuring more width, legroom and adjustability; extendable foot and head rests; a chef-inspired meal; complimentary amenity kits and a Casper pillow and blanket.

The additional CDG and MAD flights will be operated as part of the Atlantic Joint Business (AJB) among American, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair. Through the AJB, customers can seamlessly book and fly on nearly 150 trans-Atlantic flights to hundreds of destinations in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

Second daily flight to CDG and MAD, June 6–Oct. 27 (subject to change)

DFW–CDG (Boeing 787-9)

AA22
Departs DFW at 8:30 p.m.
Arrives CDG at 12:45 p.m.

AA23
Departs CDG at 3:25 p.m.
Arrives DFW at 6:50p.m.

DFW–MAD (Boeing 787-9)

AA156
Departs DFW at 8:50 p.m.
Arrives MAD at 1:05 p.m.

AA157
Departs MAD at 4:55 p.m.
Arrives DFW at 8:20 p.m.

New summer routes

From DFW

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
San Luis Obispo, California (SBP) E175 April 2 Daily Year-round
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR) E175 May 3 Daily Summer
Kalispell, Montana (FCA) E175 June 6 Daily Summer
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (MDT) E175 June 6 Daily Year-round
Santa Rosa, California (STS) E175 June 6 Daily Summer/Fall

From DCA

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Melbourne, Florida (MLB) E175 May 4 Sat./Sun. Summer

From LAX

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Santa Rosa, California (STS) E175 May 3 Daily Summer
Kalispell, Montana (FCA) E175 June 6 Daily Summer

From LGA

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Columbia, South Carolina (CAE) E145 May 3 Daily Year-round
Asheville, North Carolina (AVL) E175 May 4 Sat./Sun. Summer
Daytona Beach, Florida (DAB) E175 May 4 Sat./Sun. Summer
Jackson, Wyoming (JAC) A319 June 8 Saturday Summer
Halifax, Nova Scotia (YHZ) E175 June 15 Saturday Summer

From ORD

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Manchester, New Hampshire (MHT) CRJ700 June 6 Daily Year-round
Kalispell, Montana (FCA) E175 June 6 Daily Summer
Durango, Colorado (DRO) CRJ700 June 8 Saturday Summer

From PHL

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Halifax, Nova Scotia (YHZ) E175 June 13 Daily Summer

From PHX

Destination city Aircraft Flights begin Frequency Season
Raleigh, North Carolina (RDU) A320 May 3 Daily Year-round

Also, as previously announced, American will inaugurate 28 new domestic and international routes from Dec. 19 to 22, 2018 on top of two international launches this week: MIA–Matecana International Airport (PEI) in Pereira, Columbia, and MIA–Argyle International Airport (SVD) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by American): American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N832AA (msn 40638) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 944767.

American aircraft slide show (Boeing):

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American Airlines Group reports third quarter 2018 profit

American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N830AN (msn 40650) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 944058.

American Airlines Group Inc. (American Airlines) today reported its third-quarter results, including these highlights:

  • Reported a third-quarter 2018 pretax profit of $456 million, or $688 million excluding net special items1, and a third-quarter net profit of $341 million, or $523 million excluding net special items
  • Third-quarter 2018 earnings were $0.74 per diluted share, or $1.13 per diluted share excluding net special items
  • Returned $46 million to shareholders in the form of dividends during the third quarter

“Strong demand for American’s service led to record revenue in the third quarter and our eighth consecutive quarter of unit revenue growth. Our team continues to do an outstanding job of taking care of our customers, including during difficult situations such as Hurricanes Florence and Michael,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “Unfortunately, higher fuel prices increased our expenses by approximately $750 million versus the third quarter of 2017, which led to a decline in earnings.

“We have moved quickly to adapt to the higher cost environment with lower planned capacity growth, the cancellation of unprofitable flying, deferral of new aircraft deliveries and continued aggressive cost management. We have significant revenue growth opportunities through initiatives such as expanded product segmentation, harmonization of aircraft configurations and high-margin growth prospects in our most profitable hubs. We are confident these actions will return American to both revenue outperformance and earnings growth in 2019 and beyond, and we remain very bullish on the future of American Airlines.”

Third-Quarter Revenue and Expenses

Pretax earnings excluding net special items for the third quarter of 2018 were $688 million, a $485 million decrease from the third quarter of 2017, driven by higher fuel prices. In addition, the company’s third-quarter pretax earnings were negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence by approximately $50 million.

GAAP Non-GAAP1
3Q18
3Q17
3Q18
3Q17
Total operating revenues ($ mil) $  11,559 $  10,965 $  11,559 $  10,965
Total operating expenses ($ mil) 10,910 9,709  10,693 9,602
Operating income ($ mil)   649   1,256   866   1,363
Pre-tax income ($ mil)   456   1,063   688   1,173
Pre-tax margin 3.9 % 9.7 % 6.0 % 10.7 %
Net income ($ mil)   341   661   523   729
Earnings per diluted share $   0.74 $   1.36 $   1.13 $   1.50

 

Strong demand for air travel drove a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase in third-quarter 2018 total revenue, to a record $11.6 billion. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) grew 1.8 percent, driven by a 2.2 percent increase in passenger yields. Cargo revenue was up 16.4 percent to $260 million due to a 12.1 percent increase in yield and a 3.8 percent increase in volume. Other revenue was up 14.5 percent to $738 million due primarily to higher loyalty revenue. Third-quarter total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased by 2.6 percent compared to the third quarter 2017 on a 2.7 percent increase in total available seat miles.

The improvement in revenue was offset by the significant increase in fuel prices. Total third-quarter 2018 operating expenses were $10.9 billion, up 12.4 percent year-over-year, driven by a 42.6 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense. Had fuel prices remained unchanged versus the third quarter of 2017, total third-quarter 2018 expenses would have been approximately $750 million lower. Total third-quarter 2018 cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 14.54 cents, up 9.4 percent from third quarter 2017. Excluding fuel and special items, consolidated third-quarter CASM was 10.60 cents, up 0.8 percent year-over-year.

Strategic Objectives

American is focused on four strategic objectives to ensure a healthy, competitive company for the long-term that includes world-class service, a focus on its team, revenue and cost initiatives, and innovative thinking. The company continued to deliver on these objectives in the third quarter.

Create a World-Class Customer Experience

Delivering a world-class customer experience includes operating reliably, building a strong network, continually raising the bar on product offerings and making it easy for customers to do business with American. During the third quarter, American:

  • Expanded the world’s largest network to even more destinations. American announced planned service to Berlin (TXL); Bologna, Italy (BLQ); and Dubrovnik, Croatia (DBV). American will be the only airline to serve Bologna and Dubrovnik from North America.
  • Made significant improvements in onboard technology by:
    • Activating live TV on domestic aircraft, with 12 free channels available in all cabins. Live TV is rolling out throughout the airline’s domestic mainline fleet in 2019. American already offers live TV on its long-haul international flights, the only U.S. airline to do so.
    • With 380 aircraft complete, just over half of American’s domestic mainline aircraft now offer high-speed Wi-Fi. The entire long-term mainline fleet will be complete by mid-2019.
  • Continued updating food offerings to reflect evolving consumer tastes. American entered into an exclusive partnership with Zoës Kitchen to offer healthy choices beginning Dec. 1 and added a vegan option on transcontinental flights.
  • Received APEX recognition as a Five Star Global Airline. The Airline Passenger Experience Association, which bases its awards on anonymous passenger feedback on overall flight experience, awarded American its highest rating for in-seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Make Culture a Competitive Advantage

Taking care of team members translates into better customer care. American’s culture reflects its emphasis on providing the right tools, training, and care for its frontline team members. During the third quarter, American:

  • Fully integrated the best flight attendant team in the business. With its largest and most complex integration project to-date now complete, flight attendants are now able to fully intermix across the entire fleet. This integration creates improved scheduling options for flight attendants and the airline, and provides greater flexibility and service recovery during irregular operations.
  • Accrued $43 million in profit sharing during the third quarter and $135 million for the first nine months of 2018.
  • Reopened the newly redesigned CR Smith Museum to showcase the men and women who make American run and to encourage young people to aspire to careers in aviation. The museum’s interactive displays include an MD-80 cockpit, an Airline Command Center where visitors make operational decisions and a baggage loader where visitors can try their hand at loading bags in record time.
  • Supported relief partner efforts after recent hurricanes. The American Red Cross and the North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund received $300,000 each as American and its customers stepped forward to ease the burdens of Carolinians impacted by Hurricane Florence. In addition, team members in Miami and Chicago have planned large-scale assembly projects that will send 5,000 hygiene comfort kits and 75,000 pounds of food to areas impacted by the recent natural disasters.
  • Celebrated being an inclusive and diverse employer by honoring four team members with the 10th annual Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion. American also awarded Morgan State University in Baltimore a $10,000 education grant as part of the 10th anniversary commemoration. For the third year in a row, the airline was named among the 2018 DEI Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion and received the top score of 100 on the 2018 Disability Equality Index.
  • Supported the Stand Up To Cancer telecast with 94 team members, all of whom have been personally impacted by cancer. These team members from around the world came together at our Los Angeles maintenance hangar to film a music video that aired during the telecast, which raised $123.6 million.

Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength

Long-term strength is realized by capturing merger efficiencies, improving unit revenue performance, and increasing margin performance. During the third quarter, American:

  • Returned $46 million in dividends to shareholders and declared a dividend of $0.10 per share on Oct. 25, 2018, to be paid on Nov. 20, 2018, to stockholders of record as of Nov. 6, 2018.
  • Updated the youngest fleet of the network airlines with more aircraft deliveries, including three new more efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft (top) and four new Boeing 737 MAX 8s.
  • Lowered planned capital expenditures in 2019, 2020, and 2021 by $1.2 billion, by deferring delivery of 22 Airbus A321neos.
  • Evolved its segmentation strategy by:
    • Removing the carry-on bag restriction from domestic and short-haul international Basic Economy fare rules. This action makes the airline’s Basic Economy product more competitive and enables the airline to offer it on more flights.
    • Continuing the installation of Premium Economy, now on 92 widebody aircraft with expected completion by mid-2019. Main Cabin customers continue to select this highly differentiated product and the company expects to drive more value from this product with new revenue management and merchandising initiatives in 2019.

Think Forward, Lead Forward

Along with executing the day-to-day operation, the airline has a focus on moving new products to market more quickly and embracing technological advancements. In the third quarter, American:

  • Enabled the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform, Alipay, on aa.com in China. Alipay is the preferred method of payment for more than half of consumers in China and has more than 870 million users worldwide.
  • Opened up new ways to earn miles with its Citi AAdvantage MileUp card, a new no-annual-fee credit card for consumers to turn everyday spending into travel.
  • Enhanced aviation security for team members and customers by partnering with the Transportation Security Administration to add a state-of-the-art computed tomography scanner at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 8 security checkpoint.
  • Furthered the airline’s commitment to reduce environmental waste by beginning to replace plastic straws and stir sticks with biodegradable, eco-friendly alternatives.

Guidance and Investor Update

American expects its fourth-quarter 2018 TRASM to increase approximately 1.5 to 3.5 percent year-over-year. The company also expects its fourth-quarter 2018 pretax margin excluding special items to be between 4.5 and 6.5 percent.2 Based on today’s guidance, American continues to expect its 2018 diluted earnings per share excluding net special items to be between $4.50 and $5.00.2

Notes

  1. In the third quarter, the company recognized $232 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes. Third-quarter operating special items of $217 million principally included $109 million of fleet restructuring expenses and $68 million of merger integration expenses. The company also recognized nonoperating special items of $15 million primarily related to mark-to-market net unrealized losses associated with certain of the company’s equity investments. See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of all GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.
  2. American is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP, as the nature or amount of special items cannot be determined at this time.

Top Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N830AN (msn 40650) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 944058.

American aircraft slide show:

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American Airlines Group reports second quarter 2018 profit

American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N812AA (msn 40630) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 941138.

American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) today reported its second-quarter results, including these highlights:

  • Reported a second-quarter 2018 pre-tax profit of $769 million, or $1.0 billion excluding net special items1, and a second-quarter net profit of $566 million, or $757 million excluding net special items
  • Second-quarter 2018 earnings were $1.22 per diluted share, or $1.63 per diluted share excluding net special items
  • Returned $396 million to shareholders, including the repurchase of 8.2 million shares and dividend payments of $46 million
  • Announced changes to Basic Economy so that beginning on September 5, it will include both a personal item and a carry-on bag like other Main Cabin fares
  • Announced deferral of 22 Airbus A321neo deliveries from 2019, 2020 and 2021, lowering aircraft capital expenditures for those years

“This was perhaps the most challenging quarter for the American team since our merger with US Airways in 2013,” said American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “We had an operational disruption at our PSA Airlines subsidiary that was extremely trying for our customers and our team members; higher fuel prices increased our expenses by more than $700 million versus last year; and our revenues, while increasing, have begun to trail the rate of increase at our largest competitors for the first time since early 2016. Because fuel expenses are expected to increase by more than $2 billion this year, we expect 2018 earnings to be lower than last year.

“These near-term challenges do not dampen our long-term excitement about the future of American Airlines. We are taking aggressive action now to return American to prior profitability levels even at these much higher fuel prices. We are deferring aircraft deliveries and capital expenditures, lowering our 2018 capacity growth and reducing non fuel-related expenses. In addition, we anticipate that our 2019 capacity growth will be lower than our competitors and will be focused in our top-performing hubs at Dallas-Fort Worth and Charlotte. We are confident these actions will return American to both revenue outperformance and earnings growth in 2019 and beyond. As a result, we are very bullish on the future of American Airlines.”

Second-Quarter Revenue and Expenses

Pre-tax earnings excluding net special items for the second quarter of 2018 were $1.0 billion, a $593 million decrease from the second quarter of 2017, driven by higher fuel prices.

 

GAAP Non-GAAP 1
2Q18
2Q17
2Q18
2Q17
Total operating revenues ($ mil) $ 11,643 $ 11,227 $ 11,643 $ 11,227
Total operating expenses ($ mil)   10,615   9,628   10,463   9,425
Operating income ($ mil) 1,028 1,599 1,180 1,802
Pre-tax income ($ mil) 769 1,389 1,001 1,594
Pre-tax margin 6.6 % 12.4 % 8.6 % 14.2 %
Net income ($ mil) 566 864 757 1,005
Earnings per diluted share $ 1.22 $ 1.75 $ 1.63 $ 2.04

Continued strong demand for air travel drove a 3.7 percent year-over-year increase in second-quarter 2018 total revenue, to a record $11.6 billion. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) grew in all geographic regions driven in part by a 6.2 percent increase in the Atlantic region. Cargo revenue was up 19.4 percent to $261 million due primarily to a 9.6 percent increase in volume and an 8.9 percent increase in cargo yield. Other revenue was up 8.1 percent to $708 million due to higher loyalty revenue. Second-quarter total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased by 2.1 percent compared to the second quarter 2017 on a 1.6 percent increase in total available seat miles. This marks the seventh consecutive quarter of positive unit revenue growth and the third quarter in a row where all geographic regions showed PRASM growth on a year-over-year basis.

Despite record revenue, the improvement was outpaced by significantly higher year-over-year fuel prices. Total second-quarter 2018 operating expenses were $10.6 billion, up 10.3 percent year-over-year, driven by a 39.6 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense. Had fuel prices remained unchanged versus the second quarter of 2017, total second quarter 2018 expenses would have been $700 million lower. Total second-quarter 2018 cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 14.56 cents, up 8.5 percent from second-quarter 2017. Excluding fuel and special items, consolidated second-quarter CASM was 10.83 cents, up 2.4 percent year-over-year.

Basic Economy

To make Basic Economy more competitive, American is removing the carry-on bag restriction that is currently part of its domestic and short-haul international Basic Economy fare rules. This change will be effective September 5, for tickets purchased or flown that day. Until then, current Basic Economy fare rules will continue to apply, including the allowance for only one personal item.

“Basic Economy is working well in the markets where we offer it, and we continue to see more than 60 percent of customers buy up to Main Cabin when offered a choice,” said President Robert Isom. “Removing the bag restriction will make Basic Economy more competitive, allowing us to offer this low-fare product to more customers.”

Strategic Objectives

American Airlines is focused on four strategic objectives: Create a World-Class Customer Experience, Make Culture a Competitive Advantage, Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength, and Think Forward, Lead Forward. The company made progress on each of these long-term objectives during the second quarter.

Create a World-Class Customer Experience

American is committed to delivering a world-class customer experience by creating value and building trust with customers, driving operational excellence, and strengthening its network, especially where the company has a competitive advantage. During the second quarter, American:

  • Was honored by the Freddie Awards for Best Elite Program in the Americas. This marks the seventh award in that category for American’s AAdvantage program. Introduced in 1988, the Freddies honor both airline and hotel loyalty programs and are based entirely on votes by travelers around the world
  • Added 43 new routes, including seven new stations. This included new seasonal service between Philadelphia and Prague, Czech Republic (PRG), and Budapest, Hungary (BUD), between Chicago and Venice, Italy (VCE) and between Dallas-Fort Worth and Reykjavik-Keflavik, Iceland (KEF)
  • Finished satellite Wi-Fi installation on the company’s widebody and international Boeing 757 fleet. American now has international Wi-Fi on all 150 widebody aircraft and 24 international Boeing 757s. Installation of high-speed satellite-based Wi-Fi continues on domestic mainline narrowbody aircraft, bringing the living room experience to more of the fleet
  • Expanded Basic Economy throughout the trans-Atlantic network, giving customers a new option for the lowest fares on American and its Atlantic joint business partners
  • Began accepting credit cards for on-board purchases on American Eagle flights. This is part of a larger effort to make the customer experience consistent across regional and mainline flights, including adding Wi-Fi and meal service on more regional aircraft

Make Culture a Competitive Advantage

American is creating an environment that cares for frontline team members, provides competitive pay, and equips its team with the right tools to support its customers. During the second quarter, American:

  • Accrued $63 million for the 2018 profit sharing program, bringing the year-to-date total to $92 million
  • Rolled out implicit bias training, with web-based instruction taking place now and in-person training ready by the end of the year. This is part of ongoing work that includes engaging an independent firm to assess American’s policies and procedures to ensure the company is working toward the inclusive environment customers and team members deserve
  • Held “Elevate, One Connected Team” training sessions for almost 32,000 team members during the first half of the year. Also completed “Inspire like a Leader” training for 2,000 of the company’s managers, a two-day course that equips leaders with the tools to listen better and inspire and motivate their teams
  • Awarded more than $3.4 million through recognition programs that reward team members for excellent customer service, operational performance and helping their coworkers
  • Celebrated National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day on May 24 and Flight Attendant Appreciation Day on May 31
  • Awarded more than $925,000 in 2018 scholarships to 345 children of team members through the American Airlines Education Foundation

Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength

American is focused on capturing the efficiencies created by the merger, delivering on its earnings potential, and creating value for its owners. In the second quarter, American:

  • Returned $396 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, bringing the total since mid-2014 to $12.3 billion. These repurchases have reduced the share count by 39 percent to 460.5 million shares as of June 30, 2018. As of that date, the company had $1.7 billion remaining of its current $2.0 billion share repurchase authorization2
  • Completed a number of financial transactions, including paying off $500 million of unsecured notes and re-pricing and extending the company’s $1.8 billion South American credit facility
  • Took delivery of one new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and four 737 MAX 8s
  • On July 26, 2018, declared a dividend of $0.10 per share, to be paid on August 21, 2018, to stockholders of record as of August 7, 2018

Think Forward, Lead Forward

American is committed to re-establishing itself as an industry leader by creating an action-oriented culture that moves quickly to bring products to market, embraces technological change, and quickly seizes upon new opportunities for its network and product. In the second quarter, American:

  • Completed the migration of the last of 20 applications that have been moved to the cloud over the past year, including portions of aa.com – one of American’s most mission-critical systems. Cloud technology allows for more rapid procurement of infrastructure as well as system development, which allows greater speed and flexibility in meeting business objectives. American’s Dynamic Rebooking system, which gives customers multiple alternative options in the event of a flight cancellation, continues rapid enhancement cycles as a result of its cloud technology foundation
  • Ordered 15 new Bombardier CRJ900s and 15 new Embraer E175s. These comfortable 76-seat aircraft allow American to put the right aircraft in the right markets and deliver a customer experience that is consistent with the mainline
  • Partnered with three leading flight schools and Discover Student Loans to create the American Airlines Cadet Academy. The Cadet Academy is designed to assist prospective pilots with a defined career path that eliminates the complexity and uncertainty traditionally associated with flight training certification by providing a path to an aviation career and financing to achieve it

Guidance and Investor Update

American recently reached an agreement with Airbus to defer delivery of 22 A321neos that were previously scheduled for delivery in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to extend deliveries and spread out the associated capital expenditures. These changes are expected to reduce planned capex by approximately $1.2 billion over the next three years. The company’s first A321neo is still scheduled for delivery in early 2019. Other changes to the fleet plan, including the impact of the company’s previously announced order of large regional jets, are detailed in the company’s investor update filed with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) this morning.

As American continues to optimize its network, the company is lowering its third-quarter capacity growth rate by approximately 0.6 percentage points and its fourth-quarter capacity growth by approximately 1.0 percentage point from its previous guidance. The company now expects its third-quarter capacity to be up approximately 3.3 percent, fourth-quarter capacity to be up approximately 1.6 percent, and full-year capacity to be up approximately 2.2 percent year-over-year.

Due to the success of the One Airline efficiency project that was outlined at its media and investor day, American is lowering its third- and fourth-quarter non-fuel cost outlook. The company now anticipates that its cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items (CASM-ex) will be up approximately 1.0 percent in the third quarter, and approximately flat in the fourth quarter. As a result, full year 2018 CASM-ex is expected to increase by approximately 1.5 percent year-over-year, which is 0.5 points lower than its previous guidance.

American expects its third-quarter 2018 TRASM to increase approximately 1.0 to 3.0 percent year-over-year. The company also expects its third-quarter 2018 pre-tax margin excluding special items to be between 5.0 and 7.0 percent.3 Based on today’s guidance, American now expects its 2018 diluted earnings per share excluding net special items to be between $4.50 and $5.00.3

Notes

  1. In the second quarter, the company recognized $232 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes. Second quarter special items principally included $83 million of fleet restructuring expenses, $60 million of merger integration expenses, a $26 million non-cash charge to write-off the company’s Brazil route authority intangible asset as a result of ratification of the U.S.-Brazil Open Skies agreement, offset in part by a $57 million net credit resulting from mark-to-market adjustments on bankruptcy obligations. The company also recognized nonoperating special items totaling $80 million. These special items principally consisted of $66 million of mark-to-market unrealized losses primarily on the company’s equity investment in China Southern Airlines, and $14 million of costs associated with debt refinancings and extinguishments. See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of all GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.
  2. Share repurchases under the buyback program may be made through a variety of methods, which may include open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or accelerated share repurchase transactions. Any such repurchases will be made from time to time subject to market and economic conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. The program does not obligate the company to repurchase any specific number of shares or continue a dividend for any fixed period, and may be suspended at any time at the company’s discretion.
  3. American is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP as the nature or amount of special items cannot be determined at this time.

Top Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N812AA (msn 40630) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 941138.

American Airlines aircraft slide show:

American Airlines Group reports fourth quarter and full year 2017 profit

American's second Boeing 787-9, delivered on October 5, 2016

American Airlines Group Inc. on January 25, 2018 reported its fourth quarter and full year 2017 results, including these highlights:

  • Reported a full year 2017 pre-tax profit of $3.1 billion, or $3.8 billion excluding net special items1, and a full year net profit of $1.9 billion, or $2.4 billion excluding net special items
  • Reported a fourth-quarter 2017 pre-tax profit of $425 million, or $739 million excluding net special items, and a fourth-quarter net profit of $258 million, or $455 million excluding net special items
  • 2017 earnings were $3.90 per diluted share, or $4.88 per diluted share excluding net special items. Fourth-quarter earnings were $0.54 per diluted share, or $0.95 per diluted share excluding net special items
  • Accrued $241 million for the company’s profit sharing program in 2017, including $46 million in the fourth quarter
  • Returned $1.7 billion to shareholders in 2017, including the repurchase of 33.9 million shares and dividend payments of $198 million

Pre-tax earnings excluding net special items for the fourth quarter of 2017 were $739 million, a $34 million decrease from the fourth quarter of 2016. For the full year 2017, pre-tax earnings excluding net special items were $3.8 billion, a decrease of $1.2 billion from 2016.

“2017 was a remarkable year for American Airlines. We made enormous progress as a company as we continued to make significant investments in our team members, product and operation, and those investments are beginning to pay off,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “Our operation continues to deliver record-setting performance for the company, and the credit goes to our team members who are simply the best in the business.

“We enter 2018 with strong momentum. Demand for American’s reliable, friendly service remains strong, our network is expanding, and the products we are bringing to market are resonating with customers.”

Fourth-Quarter and Full Year 2017 Revenue and Expenses

Strong close-in demand and improving yields drove an 8.3 percent year-over-year increase in fourth-quarter total revenue, to $10.6 billion. Passenger yields grew in all geographic regions, including 11.0 percent growth in trans-Atlantic and 7.9 percent growth in Latin America. Cargo revenue was up 19.7 percent to $232 million due to higher volumes and a 6.7 percent increase in cargo yield. Other revenue was up 8.1 percent to $1.3 billion. Fourth-quarter total revenue per available seat mile increased by 5.6 percent compared to 2016 on a 2.5 percent increase in total available seat miles.

Total fourth-quarter operating expenses were $9.9 billion, up 9.8 percent year-over-year due primarily to a 23.5 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense and a 7.0 percent increase in salaries and benefits resulting from the company’s investments in its team members. Total fourth-quarter cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 14.71 cents, up 7.1 percent from fourth-quarter 2016. Excluding fuel and special items, total fourth-quarter CASM was 11.25 cents, up 3.8 percent year-over-year.

Strategic Objectives

The company continues to focus on four long-term strategic objectives: Create a World-Class Customer Experience, Make Culture a Competitive Advantage, Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength, and Think Forward, Lead Forward.

Create a World-Class Customer Experience

American began 2017 by being named Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in recognition of its successful integration and significant investment in its product and people. This is a recognition American had not received since 1988. Also in 2017, American:

  • Recorded its best on-time departure and arrival performance since 2003, and its best baggage handling performance since DOT began reporting in 1994
  • Launched new products to meet customer demand, including the expansion of American’s best-in-class lounges by opening Flagship First Dining, a new exclusive experience for customers in First Class on international and A321T transcontinental flights. American now offers Flagship First Dining in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York- JFK. Importantly, American is the only U.S. airline that offers international First Class
  • Operated the youngest fleet among its peers and invested $4.1 billion in new aircraft, including its first Boeing 737 MAX. By the end of 2018, the company expects to induct a total of 20 new MAX aircraft, which will replace older, less fuel efficient aircraft
  • Introduced new streaming-capable satellite-based internet access on the 737 MAX, which will be rolled out across most of the domestic mainline fleet
  • Introduced Basic Economy, a product to compete with ultra low-cost carriers. This product is now offered nationwide and to leisure markets in Mexico and most of the Caribbean
  • Rolled out Premium Economy, which offers a wider seat, more legroom, an amenity kit, and enhanced meal choices on international flights. Currently 64 widebody aircraft offer this product. American expects to offer Premium Economy on most of its widebody fleet by the spring of 2019
  • Expanded the airline’s global footprint by launching Los Angeles-to-Beijing service; and announcing service from Philadelphia to Prague, Czech Republic, and Budapest, Hungary; Dallas-Fort Worth to Reykjavik-Keflavik, Iceland; and Chicago-O’Hare to Venice, Italy, which will start this summer
  • Completed delivery of the last Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321CEO aircraft
  • Painted the last aircraft in American’s new livery

“Customers are responding positively to the options American offers, from international First Class to Basic Economy,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom. “We are far ahead of our U.S. competitors in offering Premium Economy on our international flights, which comes just as we begin to prepare for the busy summer travel season. Importantly, this highly-differentiated product makes American’s international service consistent with its partners across the Atlantic and the Pacific, so customers can book their international Premium Economy trips seamlessly.

“American’s customers are noticing these significant product and network improvements. 2017 survey scores measuring our customers’ likelihood to recommend American were the highest they’ve been in company history,” Isom said.

Make Culture a Competitive Advantage

American is creating an environment that cares for frontline team members, provides competitive pay, and equips its team with the right tools to support its customers. During 2017, American:

  • Awarded each team member with two complimentary round-trip tickets across American’s global network to commemorate being named Air Transport Worlds 2017 Airline of the Year
  • After hurricanes hit the Caribbean and Florida, American Airlines team members worked together to help the people of San Juan, Puerto Rico and other affected parts of the region. American and its team members have delivered more than 2.5 million pounds of relief supplies and raised almost $2 million for the American Red Cross, in addition to other relief work
  • Invested more than $300 million in facilities and equipment including renovations to team member spaces, mobile devices for pilots and flight attendants, and the ongoing One Campus One Team initiative at the airline’s global support center in Fort Worth
  • Ensured team member pay remained competitive through initiatives such as a mid-contract salary increase for pilots and flight attendants and continued step increases from a mid-contract pay increase for mechanics and fleet service workers
  • Introduced a best-in-industry maternity and adoption benefit program to all team members including union-represented team members
  • Launched the company’s first team member survey in over a decade
  • Provided customer service skills training to 35,000 team members through Elevate the Everyday Experience training, and launched training for leaders that emphasizes supporting team members who directly serve customers
  • Announced that work on its CFM56-5B engines, which power much of American’s Airbus narrowbody fleet, would move in-house to its world-class maintenance team located in Tulsa, Oklahoma beginning later this year
  • Just this month, shared benefits of the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by issuing $1,000 payments to all non-officer team members at American and its wholly-owned regional carriers. While American does not yet pay federal cash income taxes, the new tax law will reduce the company’s future tax bill and allow more investments in equipment and facilities

Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength

American has taken significant steps forward to ensure its long-term competitiveness in the global aviation industry. In the four full years since the merger closed, the company’s cumulative pre-tax earnings excluding net special items were $19.4 billion. American is focused on capturing the efficiencies created by the merger, delivering on its earnings potential, and creating value for its owners. In 2017, American:

  • Returned $1.7 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, bringing the total since mid-2014 to $11.4 billion. These repurchases have reduced the share count by 37 percent to 475.5 million shares at the end of 2017. As of December 31, 2017, the company had approximately $450 million remaining of its current $2.0 billion share repurchase authority2
  • Announced, at American’s Media & Investor Day last fall, $3.9 billion in revenue and cost initiatives expected to be realized by the end of 2021. These projects are on track and are expected to improve the customer experience, drive revenue improvements, and deliver cost efficiencies
  • Completed several innovative and landmark transactions in 2017 that provided efficient financing for the company. These transactions included repricing approximately $5 billion in term loans at industry-leading rates, extending and increasing its revolving credit facility, and setting a new benchmark rate for subordinated aircraft debt in the EETC market
  • On January 25, 2018, declared a dividend of $0.10 per share, to be paid on February 20, 2018, to stockholders of record as of February 6, 2018

Think Forward, Lead Forward

American is committed to re-establishing itself as an industry leader by creating an action-oriented culture that moves quickly to bring products to market, embraces technological change, and quickly seizes upon new opportunities for its network and product. In 2017, American:

  • Announced a $200 million equity stake in China Southern Airlines, leading to a growing codeshare with the largest airline in China
  • Executed an amended and restated trans-Atlantic Joint Business Agreement that extends the term of the agreement with the company’s partners
  • Adopted next-generation technology such as cloud hosting and machine learning to speed time to value
  • Announced a commitment for more than $1.6 billion for improvements of LAX Terminals 4 and 5, setting the stage for American to receive additional gate space, strengthen its Pacific gateway and to be the pre-eminent airline for Los Angeles
  • Built a five-gate expansion at Chicago O’Hare Terminal 3, which is expected to open in April, giving American a new advantage at this key competitive hub

Parker summarized: “As an airline, we will always operate in a just-in-time environment, however, we recognize we must lead for the long term. This means we must be more nimble in our problem solving and in how we innovate and develop the right products, technology, and network both for customers of today and the future. Ultimately, all of this work will produce a company built for the long term, led by a team that thinks long-term, sees the potential of future opportunities, and brings innovative concepts to market quickly and efficiently.”

Guidance and Investor Update

American expects its first-quarter 2018 TRASM to increase approximately 2.0 to 4.0 percent year-over-year, which reflects expected continued improvement in demand for both business and leisure travel. The company also expects its first-quarter 2018 pre-tax margin excluding special items to be between 2.0 and 4.0 percent.3 In addition, based on the guidance issued today and current business conditions, American presently expects its 2018 diluted earnings per share excluding net special items to be between $5.50 and $6.50. 3

 

Notes

  1. In the fourth quarter, the company recognized $314 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes. Mainline special items principally consisted of a $123 million charge for the $1,000 cash bonus and associated payroll taxes granted to employees in recognition of recent tax reform, $81 million of merger integration expenses, $58 million of fleet restructuring expenses, and a $20 million net charge resulting from fair value adjustments to bankruptcy obligations. Regional special items of $23 million principally consisted of a charge related to the $1,000 cash bonus and associated payroll taxes discussed above for employees at the company’s regional subsidiaries. The company also recognized a nonoperating special charge of $11 million and an income tax net special benefit of $7 million. See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of all GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.
  2. Share repurchases under the buyback program may be made through a variety of methods, which may include open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or accelerated share repurchase transactions. Any such repurchases will be made from time to time subject to market and economic conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. The program does not obligate the company to repurchase any specific number of shares or continue a dividend for any fixed period, and may be suspended at any time at the company’s discretion.
  3. American is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP as the nature or amount of special items cannot be determined at this time.

Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N821AN (msn 40640) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 935286.

American Airlines aircraft slide show (Boeing):

 

American Airlines Group reports its third quarter 2017 results

American's second Boeing 787-9, delivered on October 5, 2016

American Airlines Group Inc. on October 26, 2017 reported its third quarter 2017 results, including these highlights:

  • Recorded a third-quarter 2017 pre-tax profit of $1.0 billion, or $1.1 billion excluding net special items,1 and net profit of $624 million, or $692 million excluding net special items
  • Reported third-quarter earnings of $1.28 per diluted share, or $1.42 per diluted share excluding net special items
  • Reported a 2.7 percent increase in total revenue, to $10.9 billion, and a 1.1 percent increase in total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) for the third quarter
  • Returned $411 million to stockholders in the third quarter through the repurchase of 7.7 million shares for $362 million and dividend payments of $49 million

Pre-tax earnings excluding net special items for the third quarter of 2017 were $1.1 billion, a $369 million decrease from the third quarter of 2016. During the third quarter, the company’s operations were affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, causing more than 8,000 flight cancellations, and reducing pre-tax earnings by an estimated $75 million.

“Despite the significant operational challenges posed by three hurricanes, our team delivered solid financial results,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “The hurricane response highlighted the humanity and professionalism of the American team, and our industry as a whole.”

“We especially want to acknowledge the burden placed on our team members in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean. The generous spirit of the American Airlines team was on full display as team members in Miami, Chicago and elsewhere packed meals and care packages for our colleagues and our customers in Puerto Rico. We also capped fares for customers traveling to and from the regions hit by these storms,” Parker said.

Revenue and Expenses

GAAP Non-GAAP1
3Q17 3Q16 3Q17 3Q16
Total operating revenues ($ mil) $   10,878 $   10,594 $   10,878 $   10,594
Total operating expenses ($ mil)   9,646   9,163   9,539   8,869
Operating income ($ mil)   1,232   1,431   1,339   1,725
Pre-tax income ($ mil)   1,004   1,189   1,114   1,483
Pre-tax margin 9.2 % 11.2 % 10.2 % 14.0 %
Net income ($ mil)   624   737   692   933
Earnings per diluted share $   1.28 $   1.40 $   1.42 $   1.76

Continued strong demand for air travel and improving yields drove a 2.7 percent year-over-year increase in total revenue, to $10.9 billion. For the first time since the second quarter of 2014, yield grew in every geographic region, with notable strength in Latin America. Cargo revenue was up 17.0 percent to $200 million due to a 19.2 percent increase in cargo ton miles. Other revenue was up 2.2 percent to $1.3 billion. Third-quarter TRASM increased by 1.1 percent on a 1.6 percent increase in total available seat miles.

Total third-quarter operating expenses were $9.6 billion, up 5.3 percent year-over-year due primarily to a 13.3 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense and an 8.0 percent increase in salaries and benefits resulting from the company’s investments in its team members. Total third-quarter cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 13.20 cents, up 3.6 percent. Excluding fuel and special items, total CASM was 10.43 cents, up 4.5 percent.

“We are playing the long game at American to create value in an industry that has been fundamentally transformed,” said Parker.

Strategic Objectives

At American’s Media & Investor Day last month, the company laid out four long-term strategic objectives: Build a World-Class Product, Drive Efficiencies, Make Culture a Competitive Advantage, and Think Forward, Lead Forward.

Build a World-Class Product

American continues to make significant investments in the premium travel experience. In August, the company opened a new Admirals Club lounge in Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport, and in September, the company opened a new Flagship Lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. American plans to open new Flagship Lounges with Flagship First Dining in Miami and Los Angeles later this quarter.

Demand for American’s highly-differentiated Premium Economy travel experience remains high. Offered on international flights, Premium Economy comes with a wider seat, more legroom, an amenity kit, and enhanced meal choices. American is pleased with the customer adoption of this product as it generates an average premium of more than $400 each way over Main Cabin fares. The company’s fleet now has Premium Economy seats on 27 of its widebody aircraft, with plans to retrofit most of its remaining widebodies by the end of 2018.

In early September, American expanded its Basic Economy product throughout the continental United States. Basic Economy allows American to compete with ultra-low cost carriers while still offering a better product. Initial results of this new product’s rollout continue to be consistent with management’s expectations, with approximately half of American Airlines customers buying up to Main Cabin when given the option between that and Basic Economy.

“Continued product differentiation and a comprehensive network are just two of the ways American is setting itself apart. And we know we can do more. We have identified nearly $3 billion of revenue opportunities through 2021, including product segmentation, co-branded partnerships, and harmonizing our seating configurations across the fleet,” said American Airlines President Robert Isom.

Drive Efficiencies

As part of the company’s ongoing fleet renewal program, during the third quarter, American invested more than $900 million in 13 new mainline aircraft and three regional aircraft, including taking delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. These new, larger and more fuel efficient aircraft continue American’s fleet transformation and will replace aircraft that are expected to leave the fleet. In total, the company has invested more than $18 billion in new aircraft since the merger, giving it the youngest fleet of its network peers.

“We are focused on driving efficiencies and maximizing value for our investors. As we plan for the future, we have identified more than 400 efficiency-related projects which we estimate will provide $1 billion of benefit over the next four years. Examples include fuel initiatives, flight and route planning, improved schedule seasonality, and using our airport assets more productively,” said Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr.

Make Culture a Competitive Advantage

Making culture a competitive advantage starts with leadership that cares for frontline team members. During the quarter, American expanded its Lead the Experience leadership training beyond corporate officers, and will expand this training further next year. In addition, American continues to roll out service training to frontline team members and anticipates 35,000 airport and reservation team members will have received this training by the end of this year, with plans to roll this training out further in 2018. Earlier this week, the company launched its first employee survey in well over a decade, which will provide more information to support frontline team members.

“We are building an environment where our leaders enthusiastically embrace the responsibility of caring for and inspiring our frontline team members. This environment includes a new technology platform for all team member data, development and training for our leaders, and investments in our team,” said Elise Eberwein, Executive Vice President of People and Communications.

Think Forward, Lead Forward

American has expanded the use of self-service technology during irregular operations, which enables customers to rebook on alternative flights and arrange for delivery of delayed bags from the convenience of a mobile device. This new technology gives customers more accurate, real-time information and options that work for them during difficult weather situations. This automation also frees up time for the company’s customer service team members to solve more complex issues.

“With the pace at which the world moves today, we know our technology solutions have to come faster, and they have to be adaptable across a variety of devices, including on-board handhelds, tablets, desktops and personal mobile devices. We are bringing more of our systems into the cloud environment, which enables us to deliver more, and finish projects faster,” said Maya Leibman, Chief Information Officer. “All of our work comes back to making it easier for our team members to do their jobs, and making it easier for our customers to fly with American, and we are making significant improvements in both of these areas.”

Hurricane Response

American Airlines team members have worked together to help the people of San Juan, Puerto Rico and other affected parts of the Caribbean. American was the first commercial airline to restore service to San Juan after Hurricane Maria. American and its team members have delivered more than 2.5 million pounds of relief supplies and raised almost $2 million for the American Red Cross. In addition, team members in Chicago, New York, Fort Worth and Miami volunteered to pack more than 100,000 meals for hurricane victims, as well as 2,000 kits for military men and women currently serving in San Juan.

Over recent weeks, Tech Ops team members sent and served 600 hot meals for colleagues in San Juan. American Airlines team members have contributed more than $350,000, which American has matched, to the American Airlines Family Fund during the recent hurricane season. The Family Fund provides monetary relief to team members facing catastrophic and life-altering emergencies.

Capital Investments and Shareholder Returns

Since mid-2014, American has returned more than $11.1 billion to stockholders primarily through share repurchases and dividends, and reduced its share count by 37 percent to 480.0 million shares. As of September 30, 2017, the company had approximately $677 million remaining of its $2.0 billion share repurchase authority.2

The company declared a dividend of $0.10 per share, to be paid on November 27, 2017, to stockholders of record as of November 13, 2017.

Guidance and Investor Update

American expects its fourth-quarter TRASM to increase approximately 2.5 to 4.5 percent year-over-year, which reflects continued improvement in demand for both business and leisure travel. The company also expects its fourth-quarter pre-tax margin excluding special items to be between 4.5 and 6.5 percent.3

 

Notes

  1. In the third quarter, the company recognized $110 million in net special items before the effect of income taxes, principally consisting of merger integration expenses and fleet restructuring expenses, offset in part by a net credit resulting from fair value adjustments to bankruptcy obligations. See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation, including a reconciliation of all GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.
  2. Share repurchases under the buyback program may be made through a variety of methods, which may include open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or accelerated share repurchase transactions. Any such repurchases will be made from time to time subject to market and economic conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. The program does not obligate the company to repurchase any specific number of shares or continue a dividend for any fixed period, and may be suspended at any time at the company’s discretion.
  3. American is unable to reconcile certain forward-looking projections to GAAP as the nature or amount of special items cannot be determined at this time.

Copyright Photo: American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner N821AN (msn 40640) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 935286.

American’s Doug Parker and Robert Isom issue a letter to the employees on pay

Fellow Team Members:

Today, we are excited to make an announcement that reinforces our commitment to building a foundation of trust at American.

When we merged, we committed that American Airlines team members would be compensated in line with their peers at other airlines. Committing to “pay in line with our peers” is difficult to define in an industry like ours with complex contracts and work rules. American generally has contractual work rules and scope clauses that require us to employ more team members than our competitors, and those add costs to the airline. But we also know that base pay rates are a very visible and meaningful indicator of relative compensation, so we set out to meet our commitment by setting American’s base pay rates at the top of the industry.

With each joint collective bargaining agreement (JCBA) reached, our team has had the highest pay rates in the industry at the time of the signing. For groups who have not reached a joint contract yet, like those represented by the TWU-IAM Association, we implemented pay increases providing the highest average hourly pay rates in the business, even though the other terms of the JCBA have not been resolved yet. These actions have increased the average pay per represented team member by more than 39 percent in the three years since our merger closed.

But as our industry has rapidly evolved and pay increases at other airlines have accelerated, some of our colleagues have fallen behind their peers at other airlines in base pay rates. And, unless their current contracts are modified, they’ll remain far behind for more than two years. Two groups specifically fall into this category today: Our pilots and flight attendants both ratified new five-year contracts in late 2014/early 2015, well in advance of some significant pay increases at our two largest competitors. Today our pilot hourly pay rates are approximately 8 percent lower than the industry’s highest rates, and our flight attendants’ hourly pay rates are approximately 4 percent lower. Absent any action, these gaps would remain at similar levels until those contracts become amendable in December 2019 for flight attendants and January 2020 for pilots.

This doesn’t feel right for the new American, and it doesn’t feel consistent with our commitment. As one of our pilots said after a recent town hall, “We all understood that we would be leapfrogged by other carriers mid-contract, but no one expected this. It is just too much for too long.”

We agree. While the commitment was met when the contract was signed, we never anticipated this large of a gap for this long a period, and we don’t like that it exists, contract or not. Therefore we intend to work with the unions to adjust the hourly base pay rates of all American pilots and flight attendants to levels that are equal to the highest rates currently in place at either Delta or United. We cannot unilaterally implement these increases – APA and APFA must agree to any contractual changes. Because we are not requesting other contractual changes, we do not expect disagreement. If they agree, these changes could be effective as soon as the May crew bid period.

The rest of our contract team members are not affected at this time, either because your pay rates remain at or near industry-leading levels, as they were at the time your JCBAs were reached, or in the case of the TWU-IAM Association, we are still negotiating a JCBA. Specifically for those negotiations, in recent weeks we’ve had productive executive sessions in Washington, D.C., with the assistance of a federal facilitator. And when those talks conclude, our contractual base pay rates will be industry-leading. Regarding our non-contract team members, we assess the market annually and attempt to ensure our compensation is always in line with our competitors, including airlines and other large companies.

But make no mistake: This is a program for everyone at American and these adjustments reflect a real philosophical change that is an important trait of the new American. As we move forward, if we see sizable discrepancies in pay rates between our team members and other major airlines and our contracts are still years away from their amendable dates, we will work to address those discrepancies. Today’s news is not about buying trust because we all know trust cannot be purchased.

Today’s news is about doing the right thing and doing so not because we are contractually required to or because we are locked in a contentious contractual battle. We must continue moving past the days of discontent as we build a new American where team members trust each other and work together with our customers’ care in mind.

We also know pay does not build culture – we have made great progress there but have more work ahead and we must continue to work together to improve the lives of our frontline team members. That work will continue. Today’s action is an important step along that path and we are pleased to be part of an organization that has the courage to take steps like this. We thank the American Airlines Board of Directors and our investors for their long- term focus and their appreciation of the value of supporting our team.

Most importantly, thanks to each of you for all you do for American. Our customers are counting on us to validate the trust they place in us each time they step onboard one of our aircraft. Thanks to the greatest, most professional team in the business, they are always in good hands. It is an honor to work with and for each of you.

Doug Parker Robert Isom Chairman and CEO President