American, Southwest airlines report upbeat quarters on strong pent-up demand

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in… read more.
on Jul 22, 2021
  • American Airlines beats Wall Street estimates in the second quarter.
  • Southwest Airlines benefits from PSP and swings to profit in fiscal Q2.
  • Shares of both air carriers were down on Thursday morning.

American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) said on Thursday its revenue climbed by over 350% in the fiscal second quarter. The air carriers adjusted loss contracted more than expected as easing COVID-19 restrictions turned the daily cash burn positive.

American Airlines’ Q2 financial performance

American Airlines generated $7.48 billion of total revenue and reported $1.69 of adjusted per-share loss. According to FactSet, analysts had forecast $7.32 billion of revenue and $2.03 of adjusted per-share loss. Shares of the company were still 2% down on Thursday morning.  

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American Airlines took in $1 million on average in cash per day and closed the recent quarter with total available liquidity of a record $21.3 billion. Load factor, revenue passenger miles, and available seat miles all improved sharply in Q2 on a year-over-year basis.

On CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, CEO Doug Parker expressed confidence that recovery will remain strong in the upcoming quarter. He said:

“There’s enormous pent-up demand with leisure, and business is starting to pick up too. Our revenue was up 87% sequentially. We’ve been adding capacity (45% this quarter) and will keep at it as demand continues to grow. We’re now twice the size we were at the start of the year. We’re back to where we need to be and growing profitably and with enough people to make it happen.” 

Southwest Airlines swings to profit in Q2

Peer Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE: LUV), on the other hand, swung to profit in Q2, attributed to the Payroll Support Programme (PSP). Shares of the company were more than 3% down on Thursday morning.

Excluding the benefit from PSP, the air carrier lost 35 cents per share on an adjusted basis on $4.008 billion of revenue. FactSet consensus was for $3.93 billion of revenue but a narrower 23 cents of adjusted per-share loss.

CEO Gary C. Kelly echoed what American’s Parker said about a strong recovery in leisure travel demand in the recent quarter. Southwest’s load factor climbed to 82.9% in Q2 and available seat miles to 86.8%. For the third quarter, the Dallas-headquartered company forecasts a 49% increase in capacity. Kelly said:

“To support the return of flight activity, we expect to recall the vast majority of our employees early from voluntary time-off by the end of third quarter 2021, which is expected to reduce our prior forecasted savings from voluntary leave programs beyond second quarter 2021.”

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