Fort Worth (US), Jul 22 (AP) American Airlines eked out a second-quarter profit of USD 19 million, its first since the pandemic started, thanks to nearly USD 1.5 billion in federal relief.

The report on Thursday underscored the progress airlines are making in rebuilding after the coronavirus crushed air travel — and how much farther they still have to go to fully recover.

American's revenue jumped more than four-fold from a year ago, but was down 37per cent from the same quarter in 2019.

Excluding American's share of USD54 billion in federal relief to help airlines cover payroll costs, and other special items, the Fort Worth-based carrier would have lost USD1.1 billion. That is American's smallest adjusted loss in any quarter since 2019.

“We have taken a number of steps to solidify our business ... and it shows in our second-quarter results,” CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo to employees.

The number of airline passengers flying in the U.S. each day has been rising for more than a year and recently hit 2 million, or about 80per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Domestic leisure travel is roughly back to normal, but business and international travelers — key customers for American and other huge U.S. airlines — are still mostly absent.

American has been adding back flights that were cut last year. After convincing thousands of employees to quit or take voluntary leave in 2020, it has recently announced plans to bulk up staffing by recalling 3,300 flight attendants later this year and hiring 350 pilots this year and more than 1,000 next year.

American's profit equaled 3 cents per share. The adjusted loss of USD1.1 billion equaled USD1.69 per share, which was not as bad as the USD2.03 per share loss expected by analysts, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue surged to USD7.48 billion, beating the analysts' prediction of USD7.32 billion.

In trading before the opening bell, shares of American Airlines Group Inc. fell 1per cent. (AP)

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