AMR Posts Slightly Smaller 1Q Loss

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines, on Wednesday posted a slightly narrower first-quarter loss helped by a tax credit, but said soaring fuel costs more than offset increases in passenger traffic. Its shares rose more than 7 percent.

For the three months ended March 31, AMR's loss was $162 million, or $1 per share, for the three months ended March 31 compared with $166 million, or $1.03 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding a tax credit, the company said its loss would have been $230 million, or $1.43 per share. That loss was narrower than the loss $1.61 per share expected by analysts, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

''In many ways, the story for the first quarter is very similar to what we have seen the past several quarters,'' Gerard Arpey, AMR's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. ''The combination of extraordinarily high fuel prices and low fares continues to take a heavy financial toll.''

However, Arpey pointed out that AMR was able to reduce costs excluding fuel by 3.2 percent during the quarter, excluding effects of the tax benefit.

Operating revenue totaled $4.75 billion, up 5 percent from $4.51 billion a year earlier and just below the analyst target of $4.77 billion.

At American Airlines, passenger revenue grew 4 percent to reach $3.84 billion, AMR said. Revenue passenger miles - one paying passenger flown one mile - rose 6.7 percent to 32.33 billion, but the amount the airline earned per passenger per mile fell to 11.88 cents, down 2.1 percent from the year before.

American Airlines' total capacity was nearly unchanged at 42.85 billion available seat miles, but plane occupancy, or load factor, swelled to 75.4 percent from 71.1 percent.

Meanwhile, revenue from American's regional carriers jumped 7 percent to $451 million. Quarterly traffic surged 22.5 percent to 1.89 billion revenue passenger miles as occupancy added 2 percentage points to total 64.7 percent.

During the quarter, aircraft fuel costs skyrocketed 36 percent to $1.1 billion from $808 million a year ago, the company said.

AMR shares rose 73 cents, or 7.2 percent, to $10.89 during midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.