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American Airlines lost $8.9 billion last year as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted air travel

By Eric Todisco
March 29, 2021 02:32 PM
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American Airlines plane
Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty

American Airlines is seeing a staggering increase in travel bookings in comparison to its record low numbers throughout 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the Texas-based air carrier — which lost more than $8.9 billion last year — said in a regulatory filing that net bookings are at 90 percent of the company's pre-pandemic 2019 average, with 80 percent of seats onboard being filled.

"Due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order to require a negative COVID-19 test for entry into the U.S. at the beginning of 2021, the Company experienced softness in its bookings at the beginning of the first quarter," American Airlines said. "However, as infection and hospitalization rates have materially declined and vaccine distribution has increased during the quarter," the company says it has experienced an increase in bookings.

The airline went on to say that it expects the upward trend to continue.

Air travel has sharply increased in recent weeks as more Americans get vaccinated. On Sunday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1.57 billion passengers, the highest number since March 2020, according to Reuters.

travel during Covid
Credit: Getty

Before the onset of the pandemic, American Airlines says it was experiencing record-levels of travel. But in March 2020, air travel largely halted and thousands of employees at numerous airlines were furloughed.

U.S. airlines operated the lowest number of domestic flights ever recorded in May 2020, according to a new report from the Department of Transportation.

Last April, American Airlines received $5.8 billion through the CARES Act under the terms that it cannot lay off, involuntarily furlough or reduce workers' pay rate until October. A few months later, the company warned employees it would lay off or involuntary furlough 19,000 workers if it does not receive additional federal aid.

However, earlier this month, CEO Doug Parker canceled employee furloughs for 13,000 workers after the passing of COVID-19 relief to provide employees with benefits, according to Fox Business.