American Airlines: Key revenue number rises

Associated Press Modified: October 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012
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DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines parent AMR Corp. said Monday that a key revenue measure rose 4 percent in September although traffic declined as the carrier struggled with widespread flight delays and cancellations.

American's improvement in the revenue statistic beat the results of several other large U.S. airlines.

Virasb Vahidi, AMR's chief commercial officer, said American benefited from recent revenue-sharing deals with British Airways and Japan Airlines and from strong demand for travel to Latin America.

But Vahidi acknowledged that September flight delays and cancelations, which American blamed on some pilots conducting an illegal work slowdown, cost the airline money. Some displaced passengers had to be booked on other airlines and bookings suffered.

In the second half of September, "there was a loss of revenue associated with closer-in bookings," he said. "That's a loss of revenue that wasn't necessarily driven by cancelations, but driven by the operational challenges."

Vahidi declined to say how much revenue and bookings suffered but said AMR would provide more details next week, when it releases third-quarter financial results.

American and its American Eagle regional-flying affiliate reported the increase in passenger revenue per available seat mile. Airlines and their investors watch the figure closely as a sign of pricing power and full planes.

AMR said the increase would have been even greater, 4.4 percent, without the high number of delays and cancellations. The revenue usually rises when airlines cancel flights because they crowd more passengers on the remaining flights.

The revenue measure fell by 2 to 3 percent at Southwest. At Delta, it rose 0.5 percent, but the airline had expected an increase of 1 to 3 percent, and the number was flat at US Airways.