American posts $344M Q4 loss amid falling traffic and cheaper tickets

“American Airlines ended 2009 with a loss and 2010 could have a rocky start if the carrier loses a key partner in the Asian market.” That’s from The Associated Press, which reports AA parent AMR lost $344 million during the fourth quarter “as traffic fell and many business travelers stayed home or bought cheaper tickets.” The loss compares with a $347 million loss from the same period a year ago.

Reuters says “the results factor in $177 million in noncash special items, including $96 million to write down route and slot authorities, mainly in Latin America, and $42 million to write down Embraer RJ-135 aircraft to their estimated fair values. Excluding special items and a noncash tax item, AMR lost $1.25 per share. Analysts had expected a loss of $1.22 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.”

In an earnings preview, The Dallas Morning News writes AA’s AMR was “expected to report the largest fourth-quarter loss among major carriers.” The Wall Street Journal says AA “lacked a clear trend of recovery in traffic during the quarter, but business-class and international operations appeared to hit bottom in May and June and have built some steam.” The Journal adds that AA parent “AMR said (today) it did plan to increase international capacity this year. And in the most recent period, it cut overall capacity less than it had expected it would.”

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