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Financial History of the American Airlines

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Published: Tue, 24 Apr 2018

American Airways was incorporated in 1930, becoming American Airlines in 1934. Operating as a passenger and cargo carrier, they also offer freight and mail services. With 9 hubs functioning throughout the country, they average around $522 million a month. In 1939, they began trading stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol AAL. (Yahoo Finance, November 2013) American Airlines began trading stock publicly on December 9, 2013.

In 1970, American Airlines gained its first Caribbean routes, merging with Trans Caribbean Airways. The agreements of the merger were that American Airlines would aid Trans Caribbean in obtaining a total of $10 million in financing. Also, for 100 shares of Trans Caribbean, American Airlines exchanged 17 shares. This merger would make for airlines first merger under its current name. (NY Times Archives, 1970.)

January 10, 2001, it became public that American Airlines had acquired bankrupt Trans World Airlines (TWA) for $4.2 billion. This transaction made American Airlines the world’s largest airline carrier. American acquired all of TWA’s assets, as well as saved the jobs of thousands of TWA’s employees by integrating them into their family. (Biz Journals, 2001)

In 2003, talks of possible bankruptcy arose for American. Labor unions eventually approved economizing contracts to avoid the bankruptcy, in which employees agreed to accept intense pay cuts in attempts to save the airline. Joy came in 2007, when American reported an annual profit of $231 million for fiscal 2006, its first reporting since around 2000. But, the glory didn’t last long, as shareholders announced at their annual meeting that due to soaring jet fuel costs, they would have to lay off thousands of workers, park at least 85 aircraft, cut domestic capacity by 25%, and increase baggage fees and other service offered to customers.

An official bankruptcy protection was filed November 29, 2011, after the airline reported a net loss of $471 billion, bringing their total losses to exceed $10 billion since 2001. American had acquired $29.6 billion in debt. Required to run all their future financial decisions across a judge’s desk, they were permitted to purchase fuel, pay for labor, and other expenditures, to maintain business. In July 2011, they received approval to place the largest plane order in history, buying 460 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, replacing older planes. The newer models would cut down on fuel and maintenance costs. (Yahoo Finance, 2011)

The year of 2012 introduced talks of a merger with US Airways. Agreements were made to exchange financial information so that the companies can research the potential merger. The merger eventually passed February 2013, officially announced on the 14th day of the month, thus the creation of the world’s biggest airline. (Yahoo Finance, 2013)

As of December 31, 2015, American Airlines gross profit was approximately $29 billion, with a net operating income of $6.2 billion and a net income of $7.6 billion, all driven by lower fuel costs, American could benefit from the decline on fuel prices. (2015 Form 10-K, AA.com)


American Airlines Investor Information, 2015 Form 10-K. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=117098&p=irol-reportsannual

History of American Airlines. https://www.aa.com/i18n/customer-service/about-us/history-of-american-airlines.jsp

A timeline of events in American Airlines’ history, November 12, 2013. The Associated Press. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/timeline-events-american-airlines-history-011902886.html

American Airlines acquires TWA. December 23, 2001. Biz Journals. http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2001/12/24/focus3.html

Koenig, David. November 29, 2011. American Airlines files for bankruptcy protection. https://www.yahoo.com/news/american-airlines-files-bankruptcy-protection-121438848.html

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