American Airlines 'poised to outperform' in 2022, says incoming CEO

Incoming American Airlines CEO Robert Isom offered a simple vision for his early days leading the airline.

“Our goal right now is to get back to profitability and deliver a reliable product, plain and simple,” he said. 

Isom will move from president to chief executive on April 1. He spoke Thursday during American’s Q4 earnings call — the final one for outgoing CEO Doug Parker. 

Isom said the work American has done during the pandemic has positioned the airline for success. He said the airline has simplified its fleet; increased gate count at its Dallas, Charlotte and Washington Dulles hubs; opened new lounges; updated aircraft maintenance facilities; shifted its network to meet current demand; and extracted more than $1 billion in long-term annual cost efficiencies.

“I am quite confident that in all aspects, American is poised to outperform,” Isom said. 

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AA lost $2 billion in 2021 

American’s year-end earnings report showed the continuing ravages of the pandemic. For the fourth quarter, the carrier reported a net loss of $931 million.

Operating revenue was $9.4 billion, which was more than double the carrier’s total for the December quarter in 2020 but still 17% below 2019 revenue. The figure topped analyst expectations by $50 million, according to the investment website Seeking Alpha. 

For full-year 2021, American reported a loss of $2 billion on operating revenue of $29.9 billion. The company’s adjusted net loss, which excludes the $4.2 billion the carrier received from the federal government for payroll support, was $5.4 billion. 

American’s loss figures are similar to those reported Thursday by United Airlines, but they are substantially worse than Delta’s results. Last week, Delta reported an adjusted net loss of $2.6 billion for 2021 and an unadjusted net income of $280 million. 

In the fourth quarter, American’s capacity was down 13% from 2019. The carrier plans to fly 8% to 10% less capacity than 2019 during the current quarter. 

American Airlines CFO Derek Kerr said he expects the carrier to record losses for January and February as the Covid-19 omicron wave plays out. He anticipates a profitable March. 

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