United, American Airlines report large losses on Covid-19 hit

NEW YORK: American Airlines and United Airlines both reported big losses Thursday following the steep decline in business due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two carriers, each of which received support under the US$2.2 trillion federal Cares Act passed last month, emphasised efforts to reduce their cash burn and build liquidity to survive what leading airline executives have described as the worst operating environment in their lifetime.

The International Air Transport Association has estimated global airlines will lose US$314 billion in 2020 revenues due to the coronavirus.

“While we are still in the midst of this crisis, we will not hesitate to make difficult decisions we believe will ensure the long-term success of our company,” said United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz.

“When demand returns, we believe we’ll be positioned to bounce back strongly and quickly because of our early and aggressive efforts to fight the worst financial crisis in aviation history.”

American reported a first quarter loss of US$2.2 billion compared with profits of US$185 million in the year-ago period.

Revenues dropped 19.6% to US$8.5 billion.

The results included a write-down of older aircraft that American is retiring in the wake of the Covid-19 slowdown.

American said it expects to reduce 2020 operating expenditures by more than US$12 billion through lower fuel costs, reductions in service and other measures.

Almost 39,000 employees took early retirement, paid leave or are voluntarily on reduced work schedules, executives said in a letter to employees.

American recently had its assets appraised and believes them to be in excess of US$10 billion.

“The company expects to pledge a portion of its assets as collateral for future financings, including the approximately US$4.75 billion secured loan American has applied for under the Cares Act,” American said.

United, meanwhile, reported a loss of US$1.7 billion, compared with profits of US$292 million in the year-ago period. Revenues fell 16.8% to US$8.0 billion.

United entered into an agreement with US Treasury for US$5 billion under the payroll support program and has applied to borrow up to US$4.5 billion under a lending program in the Cares Act.

Shares of American fell 4.9% to US$12.01 Thursday, while United shed 5.2% to US$29.58 at the market close.

However United rose 0.8% in after-hours trading to US$29.81 after releasing its earnings.