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American Airlines Sets Industry Earnings Record

787 max in flight stage photo
American Airlines Group
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American Airlines Group
American's Boeing 787 aloft with its new logo. About a year and a half after bankruptcy, and after the merger with US Airways, the carrier earned more in a quarter than any airline in aviation history

Fort Worth based American Airlines set an all-time earnings record today for the second quarter; it made nearly $2 billion. That news comes a day after Dallas-based Southwest announced its OWN all-time best.

With fuel prices down roughly a third from a year ago, nearly every airline’s not just making money, but setting records. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says his carrier’s done that, and more.

“It’s a record not just for the second quarter at American but actually the highest earnings American has ever had in  one quarter in its history – and we think it’s the highest quarterly earnings that any commercial airline has ever reported in a quarter,” Parker said.

American – the world’s largest airline -  reported a net profit of $1.7 billion, double what it earned a year ago, when it also set a second quarter record.

Nearly 20 miles east, Southwest reported its ninth consecutive record quarter. CEO Gary Kelly predicts it’ll continue.

Credit Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines announced its own quarterly earnings record yesterday

“We’re looking forward to another strong revenue performance in the third quarter,” Kelly said. “Fuel prices were down 33 percent  to a little over $2 a gallon, and we assume fuel prices will continue to be moderate for at least the next several quarters and hopefully long after that.”  

Despite the records, stock prices for both American and Southwest fell today.

Both also just got news of a broader federal inquiry into possible price gouging. This one was spurred by consumer complaints about irregular East Coast air fares after last May’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. The Department of Transportation asked the two North Texas carriers, plus Delta, United and JetBlue, for price information. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx says any business that would take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragedy is unacceptable. The airlines denied they engaged in unfair pricing. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.