American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both posted second-quarter profits on Thursday thanks to generous federal pandemic relief that covers most of their labor costs, according to an Associated Press report.
The reports underscored the progress that airlines are making in rebuilding after the coronavirus crushed air travel — and how much farther they must go to fully recover.
Southwest said it made money in June even without federal aid. CEO Gary Kelly said the recent quarter “marked an important milestone in the pandemic recovery as leisure travel demand surged.”
Both carriers reported revenue far above 2020 levels. That reflects the rising number of people taking flights in the U.S. — now about two million a day, or about 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Domestic leisure travel is roughly back to normal, but business and international travelers are still mostly absent.
American Airlines eked out a second-quarter profit of $19 million, including nearly $1.5 billion in federal relief. Without the taxpayer funding and other special items, American would have lost $1.1 billion, or $1.69 per share. Still, that is American’s smallest adjusted loss in any quarter since 2019, and the adjusted loss was less than the $2.03 per share loss forecast by analysts, according to a FactSet survey.