American Airlines (NASDAQ:) Group reported a better-than-expected pre-tax profit of around $362 million for Q3 2023. The company also announced a record-breaking third-quarter revenue of approximately $13.5 billion, driven by robust demand and revenue from its travel rewards program. Despite anticipating a dip in unit revenue compared to the strong environment in 2022, American Airlines expects steady demand during the upcoming peak holiday travel season.
Key takeaways from the call:
- American Airlines has finalized a new contract with the Allied Pilots Association, offering better compensation and quality of life improvements, and expanding training capacity.
- The company’s operational performance remained strong, achieving a record-setting completion factor of 98.6%.
- American Airlines plans to reduce its total debt by $15 billion by the end of 2025.
- The company expects its full-year adjusted operating margin to be approximately 7%, with adjusted EPS between $2.25 and $2.50.
- The company revised its full-year free cash flow estimate to approach $2 billion, citing higher aircraft capital expenditure and lower earnings due to increased fuel expenses.
During the call, American Airlines executives discussed their financial performance and outlook. The company highlighted its progress in reducing total debt levels through refinancing and open market repurchases. It also noted upgrades from credit rating agencies and expected further improvements. American Airlines ended the third quarter with around $13.5 billion in total available liquidity.
In terms of the outlook for the fourth quarter, American Airlines reported steady improvement in business travel, strong international demand, and historically high premium revenue domestically and internationally. However, it expects a challenging comparison to the strong unit revenue environment in 2022. The company anticipates a decline in fourth-quarter TRASM (Total Revenue per Available Seat Mile) of 5.5% to 7.5% with increased capacity.
Looking ahead to 2024, American Airlines plans for mid-single-digit capacity growth and a focus on better asset utilization. The company also provided an outlook for 2024, stating its plans for mid-single-digit capacity growth and a focus on better asset utilization. The company aims to bring back its regional jet network and grow revenues from AAdvantage, including brand credit cards and mile redemption.
American Airlines also discussed its cost outlook and the evolving structure of the industry. They anticipate headwinds in salaries and benefits, particularly with open contracts for flight attendants and passenger service agents. However, they also mentioned tailwinds in fleet optimization. The company aims to fly routes that generate profits and plans to focus on domestic growth rather than international expansion in the coming year.
During the earnings call, American Airlines executives discussed their financial plans and strategies for the future. The company expects its total capital expenditure (CapEx) for 2024 to be between $3 billion and $3.3 billion. Despite cost pressures, the company anticipates generating free cash flow in 2024 due to lower capital requirements.
American Airlines has invested over $30 billion in fleet renewal from 2014 to 2019 and is now in a favorable position. The executives emphasized the importance of bringing back the regional jet network and growing revenues from their AAdvantage program through credit cards and miles redemption. The company aims to fly routes that generate profits and plans to focus on domestic growth rather than international expansion in the coming year. They also highlighted the shift toward direct distribution channels, with about 80% of revenue coming from online channels. This shift allows the company to offer more personalized offers and create value for customers. American Airlines expects to improve its margins through lower unit costs and revenue growth opportunities.
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