American Airlines lost $8.9 billion in a year of pandemic

The final results are in for 2020, and it was a disastrous year for American Airlines

FORT WORTH, Texas -- American Airlines lost $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter as people stayed put in the pandemic, sending the carrier's revenue plunging by nearly two-thirds from the same period a year ago.

American predicted that similar revenue trends from late 2020 will carry over into the first three months of 2021.

The results ended a dismal year in which American Airlines Group Inc. lost $8.9 billion after earning nearly $1.7 billion the year before.

Shares of the Fort Worth, Texas, company surged more than 20% in trading before the opening bell, seemingly part of volatile trading elsewhere on Wall Street this week.

American shares jumped as much as 10% Wednesday with most of the market selling off strongly, which analysts attributed to volatile trading that has seen other stocks, notably GameStop, become wrapped up in a battle between small investors and short sellers.

The fourth-quarter loss of $2.18 billion amounted to $3.86 per share, after removing special gains. That was slightly better than Wall Street expected. Industry analysts expected per-share loss of $3.92, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

A year earlier, American earned $414 million.

Quarterly revenue dropped more than 64%, to $4.03 billion in the fourth quarter, not quite as bad as Wall Street had expected.

American said it expects first-quarter revenue to lag 60% to 65% below year-ago levels. The first quarter of 2020 included the first few weeks in which the pandemic caused a steep drop in air travel.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on AAL at https://www.zacks.com/ap/AAL