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American Airlines posts huge 1Q loss on fuel costs

April 20, 2011 | William Zimmerman
AMR Stock Quote 4_20_11.jpg
by David Koenig, via Yahoo! Finance

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines lost $436 million in the first quarter as it battled rising jet fuel prices, likely foreshadowing huge losses at other major U.S. airlines.

American responded to the grim numbers Wednesday by announcing it will scale back plans to add new flights and retire at least 25 older, gas-guzzling planes later this year.

Spot prices for jet fuel have been rising sharply since September, and American spent $1.8 billion on fuel in the first quarter -- an increase of $366 million or 25 percent from this time last year. At current oil prices, the gap could grow during the rest of 2011.

American was also hurt by winter storms that caused the cancellation of more than 9,000 U.S. flights, and by a slump in travel to Japan after the March earthquake and tsunami.

American's parent, AMR Corp., lost $1.31 per share. Not counting one-time charges for sale-leaseback deals, the company said it would have lost $1.21 per share.

Analysts, who usually exclude such items from their figures, expected a loss of $1.28 per share, according to research firm FactSet. A year ago, AMR lost $505 million, or $1.52 per share.

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