American Airlines forecasts that there will be a full recovery of domestic business travel in the coming year. The company’s executives said in an earnings call on July 22. Similar to what the United Airlines executives reported on Wednesday, American’s business travel demand ‘started to return in a meaningful way’ during the second quarter, according to American Airlines president Robert Isom.
Domestic business revenues were nearly 20% of 2019 levels in March, and in June 2021, they surged to nearly 45% of 2019 levels, spearheaded by the small and medium-sized business travels. Business travel from the big corporate clients surged by 80% in the second quarter compared to the first quarter. The chief customer officer Alison Taylor said:
“It’s been a steady recovery. Our travel remains less concentrated on peak days of the week, but the booking curve for corporate traffic continues to normalize toward 2019 levels.”
Adding onto the shift in the booking curve, there has been a surge in the traditional ‘business style’ itineraries, including the one-day trips or overnight trips without any checked bags, as explained by the chief revenue officer Vasu Raja.
Just like its competitors, American Airlines anticipates a boost in business travel demand in the fall. Nearly 50% of American’s corporate account said that they have lifted all travel restrictions, and around two-thirds have plans to return employees to the office by the end of the year.
Raja said that firms that have already brought staff back to their offices normally have shown a slowdown of four to six weeks before a return to business travel. Thus, American Airlines expects a big uptick in October after a lost-Labor widespread return to the office. Particularly, the carrier expects to see bookings surge from some of the markets that currently show some of the lowest booking volume, including Chicago, New York, and Washington DC.
While the domestic business travel should return to the 2019 booking levels in the coming year, international business travel is expected to follow a slower recovery timeline, Isom said. He added:
“As we go out and talk to CEOs in insurance, in financials, in consulting and accounting firms, everything tells us business is going to come back to where we’d seen it before. Maybe it’s in different ways, but we feel really confident, starting with domestic in 2022.”
For the second quarter of this year, American Airline reported $6.6 billion in passenger revenue and total revenue of around $7.5 billion, up 87% compared to the first quarter. In the third quarter, American projects its total revenue will plunge by nearly 20% compared with the third quarter of 2019 with capacity down 15% to 20%.
The airline reported that its daily cash burn ended in the second quarter, turning into a cash build rate of around $1 million per day. It has become more aggressive in its goals to pay down debts and now anticipates that it will reduce debt by over $15 billion by the end of 2025, compared with the previous plans of paying off $8 billion to $10 billion within the same period.
On July 22, the carrier announced that it is paying off a $950 million spare parts loan scheduled to mature in April 2023. The carrier reported some net income of $19 million for the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $2.1 billion in the second quarter of 2021. The most recent quarter’s income included money from the federal Payroll Support Program, and then excluded that and other special items, American Airlines had a net loss of $1.1 billion during the quarter.