FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) today reported its third-quarter results, including these highlights:
Reported a third-quarter 2018 pretax profit of $456 million, or $688 million excluding net special items1, and a third-quarter net profit of $341 million, or $523 million excluding net special items
Third-quarter 2018 earnings were $0.74 per diluted share, or $1.13 per diluted share excluding net special items
Returned $46 million to shareholders in the form of dividends during the third quarter
“Strong demand for American’s service led to record revenue in the third quarter and our eighth consecutive quarter of unit revenue growth. Our team continues to do an outstanding job of taking care of our customers, including during difficult situations such as Hurricanes Florence and Michael,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “Unfortunately, higher fuel prices increased our expenses by approximately $750 million versus the third quarter of 2017, which led to a decline in earnings.
“We have moved quickly to adapt to the higher cost environment with lower planned capacity growth, the cancellation of unprofitable flying, deferral of new aircraft deliveries and continued aggressive cost management. We have significant revenue growth opportunities through initiatives such as expanded product segmentation, harmonization of aircraft configurations and high-margin growth prospects in our most profitable hubs. We are confident these actions will return American to both revenue outperformance and earnings growth in 2019 and beyond, and we remain very bullish on the future of American Airlines.”
Third-Quarter Revenue and Expenses
Pretax earnings excluding net special items for the third quarter of 2018 were $688 million, a $485 million decrease from the third quarter of 2017, driven by higher fuel prices. In addition, the company’s third-quarter pretax earnings were negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence by approximately $50 million.
Strong demand for air travel drove a 5.4 percent year-over-year increase in third-quarter 2018 total revenue, to a record $11.6 billion. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) grew 1.8 percent, driven by a 2.2 percent increase in passenger yields. Cargo revenue was up 16.4 percent to $260 million due to a 12.1 percent increase in yield and a 3.8 percent increase in volume. Other revenue was up 14.5 percent to $738 million due primarily to higher loyalty revenue. Third-quarter total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased by 2.6 percent compared to the third quarter 2017 on a 2.7 percent increase in total available seat miles.
The improvement in revenue was offset by the significant increase in fuel prices. Total third-quarter 2018 operating expenses were $10.9 billion, up 12.4 percent year-over-year, driven by a 42.6 percent increase in consolidated fuel expense. Had fuel prices remained unchanged versus the third quarter of 2017, total third-quarter 2018 expenses would have been approximately $750 million lower. Total third-quarter 2018 cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 14.54 cents, up 9.4 percent from third quarter 2017. Excluding fuel and special items, consolidated third-quarter CASM was 10.60 cents, up 0.8 percent year-over-year.
American is focused on four strategic objectives to ensure a healthy, competitive company for the long-term that includes world-class service, a focus on its team, revenue and cost initiatives, and innovative thinking. The company continued to deliver on these objectives in the third quarter.
Create a World-Class Customer Experience
Delivering a world-class customer experience includes operating reliably, building a strong network, continually raising the bar on product offerings and making it easy for customers to do business with American. During the third quarter, American:
Expanded the world’s largest network to even more destinations. American announced planned service to Berlin (TXL); Bologna, Italy (BLQ); and Dubrovnik, Croatia (DBV). American will be the only airline to serve Bologna and Dubrovnik from North America.
Made significant improvements in onboard technology by:
Activating live TV on domestic aircraft, with 12 free channels available in all cabins. Live TV is rolling out throughout the airline’s domestic mainline fleet in 2019. American already offers live TV on its long-haul international flights, the only U.S. airline to do so.
With 380 aircraft complete, just over half of American’s domestic mainline aircraft now offer high-speed Wi-Fi. The entire long-term mainline fleet will be complete by mid-2019.
Continued updating food offerings to reflect evolving consumer tastes. American entered into an exclusive partnership with Zoës Kitchen to offer healthy choices beginning Dec. 1 and added a vegan option on transcontinental flights.
Received APEX recognition as a Five Star Global Airline. The Airline Passenger Experience Association, which bases its awards on anonymous passenger feedback on overall flight experience, awarded American its highest rating for in-seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Make Culture a Competitive Advantage
Taking care of team members translates into better customer care. American’s culture reflects its emphasis on providing the right tools, training, and care for its frontline team members. During the third quarter, American:
Fully integrated the best flight attendant team in the business. With its largest and most complex integration project to-date now complete, flight attendants are now able to fully intermix across the entire fleet. This integration creates improved scheduling options for flight attendants and the airline, and provides greater flexibility and service recovery during irregular operations.
Accrued $43 million in profit sharing during the third quarter and $135 million for the first nine months of 2018.
Reopened the newly redesigned CR Smith Museum to showcase the men and women who make American run and to encourage young people to aspire to careers in aviation. The museum’s interactive displays include an MD-80 cockpit, an Airline Command Center where visitors make operational decisions and a baggage loader where visitors can try their hand at loading bags in record time.
Supported relief partner efforts after recent hurricanes. The American Red Cross and the North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund received $300,000 each as American and its customers stepped forward to ease the burdens of Carolinians impacted by Hurricane Florence. In addition, team members in Miami and Chicago have planned large-scale assembly projects that will send 5,000 hygiene comfort kits and 75,000 pounds of food to areas impacted by the recent natural disasters.
Celebrated being an inclusive and diverse employer by honoring four team members with the 10th annual Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion. American also awarded Morgan State University in Baltimore a $10,000 education grant as part of the 10th anniversary commemoration. For the third year in a row, the airline was named among the 2018 DEI Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion and received the top score of 100 on the 2018 Disability Equality Index.
Supported the Stand Up To Cancer telecast with 94 team members, all of whom have been personally impacted by cancer. These team members from around the world came together at our Los Angeles maintenance hangar to film a music video that aired during the telecast, which raised $123.6 million.
Ensure Long-Term Financial Strength
Long-term strength is realized by capturing merger efficiencies, improving unit revenue performance, and increasing margin performance. During the third quarter, American:
Returned $46 million in dividends to shareholders and declared a dividend of $0.10 per share on Oct. 25, 2018, to be paid on Nov. 20, 2018, to stockholders of record as of Nov. 6, 2018.
Updated the youngest fleet of the network airlines with more aircraft deliveries, including three new more efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft and four new Boeing 737 MAX 8s.
Lowered planned capital expenditures in 2019, 2020, and 2021 by $1.2 billion, by deferring delivery of 22 Airbus A321neos.
Evolved its segmentation strategy by:
Removing the carry-on bag restriction from domestic and short-haul international Basic Economy fare rules. This action makes the airline’s Basic Economy product more competitive and enables the airline to offer it on more flights.
Continuing the installation of Premium Economy, now on 92 widebody aircraft with expected completion by mid-2019. Main Cabin customers continue to select this highly differentiated product and the company expects to drive more value from this product with new revenue management and merchandising initiatives in 2019.
Think Forward, Lead Forward
Along with executing the day-to-day operation, the airline has a focus on moving new products to market more quickly and embracing technological advancements. In the third quarter, American:
Enabled the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform, Alipay, on aa.com in China. Alipay is the preferred method of payment for more than half of consumers in China and has more than 870 million users worldwide.
Opened up new ways to earn miles with its Citi AAdvantage MileUp card, a new no-annual-fee credit card for consumers to turn everyday spending into travel.
Enhanced aviation security for team members and customers by partnering with the Transportation Security Administration to add a state-of-the-art computed tomography scanner at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 8 security checkpoint.
Furthered the airline’s commitment to reduce environmental waste by beginning to replace plastic straws and stir sticks with biodegradable, eco-friendly alternatives.
Guidance and Investor Update
American expects its fourth-quarter 2018 TRASM to increase approximately 1.5 to 3.5 percent year-over-year. The company also expects its fourth-quarter 2018 pretax margin excluding special items to be between 4.5 and 6.5 percent.2 Based on today’s guidance, American continues to expect its 2018 diluted earnings per share excluding net special items to be between $4.50 and $5.00.2
For additional financial forecasting detail, please refer to the company’s investor update, filed with this release with the SEC on Form 8-K. This filing will be available at aa.com/investorrelations.