American posts fifth consecutive loss, Southwest turn profit thanks to federal aid

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A Southwest Airlines jet leaves Midway Airport on in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Thursday said leisure travel bookings continue to rise and that it expects to break even “or better” by June.

The Dallas-based airline posted first-quarter net income of $116 million, compared with a $94 million loss a year ago. Its first-quarter profit was the result of more than $1 billion in federal aid that offset its labor costs.

Southwest's shares were up 1% in premarket trading, after trading lower before it reported results.

Meanwhile, American Airlines posted a $1.25 billion net loss, its fifth consecutive quarterly loss. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier, like its large-carrier rivals Delta and United, has been forced to do without much of the business and international travel revenue, they long relied on.

American's revenue came in at just over $4 billion, down nearly 53% from the more than $8.5 billion it posted a year ago.

Airline executives have noted improvements in bookings as vaccinations increase and tourist attractions reopen.

Southwest said it's beefing up its schedule and that it will fly slightly less this June than the same month of 2019.

Southwest's revenue fell to $2.05 billion, down more than 51% from last year and slightly below the $2.07 billion Wall Street analysts were expecting.

Here's how Southwest performed in the first quarter compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted earnings: a loss of $1.72 per share versus an expected loss of $1.85 a share
  • Revenue: $2.05 billion versus expected $2.07 billion in revenue

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