American Airlines soars on news it will boost U.S. flights in July

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) shares jumped by 25% after it said Thursday it will significantly boost its U.S. flight schedule next month after dramatic reductions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, flying more than 55% of its July 2019 domestic capacity.

American shares, up 24.6% to $14.77 on the bullish announcement, are still down more than 50% since mid-February.

The airline, the largest U.S. carrier, will also boost its international flights schedule next month, flying nearly 20% of its July 2019 schedule.

By comparison, American flew just 20% of its domestic schedule in May and is flying 25% in June, said Vasu Raja, American Airlines’ senior vice president of network strategy.

“As an airline, we’ve consciously bet on demand coming back. We have bet the economy,” Raja said, noting American has been operating a larger schedule than U.S. rivals.

Raja told Reuters that the airline would fly just over 4,000 flights on peak days in July compared with nearly 2,000 on peak days in May. That is still down from the peak 6,800 daily flights before the crisis.

Other U.S. carriers are also adding flights to summer schedules.

In total, American plans to fly 40% of July 2019 capacity.

The airline is boosting flights from New York City airports, Los Angeles and Washington and adding flights from its Dallas Fort Worth and Charlotte hubs. It is also increasing flights to major cities in Florida, Gulf Coast cities and mountain destinations as national parks and outdoor recreational spaces reopen.

In late May, the airline carried a daily average of about 110,000 customers – an increase of 71% over the 32,000 daily average the airline served in April, but still far below last year. Load factors rose to 55% by late May.

American plans to resume service to additional European and Latin American destinations in August. It will resume service to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Miami on July 7.

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