American Airlines profit jumps despite Boeing 737 Max problems


An American Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

American Airlines fourth-quarter earnings and revenue came in slightly above analyst estimates, despite complications from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

The Fort Worth,Texas-based carrier on Thursday posted net income of $414 million for the last three months of 2019, up more than 27% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 3.4% to $11.31 billion, just above Wall Street expectations.

Like rivals Southwest and United, American is grappling with the nearly yearlong grounding of the 737 Max. American said it canceled 10,000 flights in the fourth quarter alone.

Boeing this week said it doesn’t expect regulators to sign off on the planes until midyear, meaning airlines won’t have the planes in time for the lucrative summer season.

But the jet’s grounding was not American’s only problem in 2019. Operational struggles forced it to cancel or delay thousands of flights.

“While our results for the quarter reflect this progress, we know there is more work to be done,” CEO Doug Parker said in a press release announcing the results. The company will focus on improving its operations, fortifying its hub airports and driving up cash flow, he added.

American reported earnings per share of $1.15 on an adjusted basis, a penny higher than average analysts’ estimates compiled by FactSet. The airline expects to earn between $4 and $6 a share in 2020, in line with Wall Street forecasts.

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