American Airlines Reveals To The SEC That Travel Bookings Have 90% Recovered

At the end of last week I shared that American Airlines reported internally that its online sales volumes are nearly back to 2019 levels, which were record-setting. They’re seeing the strongest revenue performance they’ve had since before the pandemic.

And last week they filled nearly 80% of their seats systemwide, which for an airline is nearly completely sold out – since there are many routes they operate that are going to remain empty, operated for subsidies or because they make sense largely for cargo. If you’re on an American Airlines domestic flight outside of the most off-peak times it’s probably full.

All of this great news for the carrier, and the industry as a whole, cames from aviation watchdog Jon NYC,

Now American has disclosed this is an SEC filing as well.

As of March 26, the Company’s seven day moving average of its net bookings is approximately 90% of the level experienced in 2019, with a domestic load factor of approximately 80% during that same period. The Company presently expects this strength in bookings to continue through the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter.

As I’ve written, travelers have largely decided the pandemic is over.

What is peak sales volume for American Airlines through its online channels? Just before the pandemic American Airlines was setting company records selling $60 million in travel a day on its website.

Of course business travel hasn’t begun its recovery in earnest yet, so sales volumes through managed corporate travel channels will not be performing as well. And average fares haven’t fully recovered. There are still some great deals out there.

American Airlines is about to receive $3 billion in additional subsidies to ‘tide them over’ through September even though travel bookings have largely recovered before the second round of subsidies runs out at the end of the month.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Great, customers still do not like your product, service or attitude.
    Please send the bail out money back and repurchase that shaggy mortgaged AA Advantage program.

  2. It would seem that a lot of folks have just decided that the pandemic is over (or didn’t believe it ever existed) and it is time to return to their pre-Covid 19 lives. While I believe they are mistaken, I sincerely hope I am 100% wrong.

    I am fully vaccinated but will continue to mask, keep my distance and hold off on flying for the time being to see how this all shakes out. We seem to have a lot of volunteers willing to find out if traveling is safe right now. Godspeed.

  3. @Mike H — why do you hope you are wrong about people wanting to resume their lives? I hate to break it to you, but given the hype, the Covid fatality rate was always low: about a quarter of one percent. And even that massively overstated the risk, considering the average age of death was almost 80 and even those decedents typically had several co-morbidities. So with vaccines and infection-induced herd immunity, do you really want everyone to continue to irrationally cower in their homes? Life is pretty short — let’s encourage people to enjoy it.

  4. @Mike H – obviously you haven’t been flying or you wouldn’t make such an ill informed comment.

  5. 525000 dead out of a population of 326 million is a 1.6% mortality rate. Where does your .25% rate come from?

  6. @Mike H is partly right. Lots of people like to pretend like the Trump virus didn’t exist. It’s moved to Florida now but we still have to be mindful of Covid. It is too early to let down our guard.

    But the flip side is that travel is not the culprit. Plenty of conscientious people are flying and trying to be responsible. But for each responsible person, there’s just as many willing to be reckless and party on South Beach regardless of the cost.

  7. Mike H – not sure what calculator you are using but mine says ~550k fatalities out of -330M is only about 0.17%

  8. Do these sales volumes include Transatlantic travel?? I cannot imagine AA is flying full planes to Europe. In fact, Americans are still pretty much banned from Europe.

  9. These statistics need further definition. 80% domestic load factor on a greatly reduced number of flights still means less passengers overall. Bookings up 150% needs clarification. Their web site may be busy issuing tickets for the next 330 days but I can’t believe business travelers are part of that mix.

  10. AA’s capacity is down 38% for March 2021 vs 2019, 27% down for April, and May is down 25%.
    AS and WN will have returned a slightly higher percentage of capacity by May than AA while DL is flying just 1% less system capacity than AA for May – assuming Delta stops blocking middle seats at the end of April.

    Nothing here says anything about the fares that AA is getting. Given that they had a significant fare disadvantage to AA and DL before covid, the chances are very high that they are discounting aggressively to get to their current load factor, esp. given that they did exactly that last summer – only to have to pull back.

    AA’s unit costs are still the highest in the US airline industry.

    AA is just carrying more passengers to still lose money.

  11. 525000 dead out of a population of 326 million is a 1.6% mortality rate. Where does your .25% rate come from?

    Fake numbers, fake news, did people die, of course.

    No question. The numbers are inflated to create a narrative.

    Nation’s economy in ruins, our children’s grandchildren in hock forever.

    Trump gone, more poor people created for generations, open borders.

    Thanks CDC, big media, big government, and big Democrats, nation destroyed.

    Next stop Russian Revolution, millions will die.

  12. @ Dr Bro – That is correct. Yet, even that statistic is misleading. It overestimates the mortality rate, as the number of infections is underestimated. It fails to include those who were infected but were asymptomatic and did not come to medical attention (leaving aside the argument over if Covid was the actual cause of death among many who died who also had serious co-morbidities).

  13. @Gary – The number of people flying has certainly increased, given the number of screenings reported by the TSA.

    Any word from AMEX as to when the airport Centurion lounges will resume normal hours of operation?

  14. Math Wizard is correct, 550K / 330,000K is 0.17%. Dr. Bro and Ron are also correct.

    However, even looking at 0.17% (which would be correct if we assumed everyone got infected) that’s not a good number. It’s 1 in 600 Americans died.

    The most annoying thing is when some wishful thinkers say things like “COVID has a 99.5% survival rate!”

    That’s NOT GOOD, it’s quite bad! Imagine if you had a 0.5% chance, or 1 in 200 chance of dying every time you stepped on a plane. Very few people would accept that level of risk. Why do some accept that level (or higher, as some estimates for IFR are as high as 1-2%, depending on health factors that none of us can predict for any individual) for this virus? Smh.

  15. And still no services on board except for the longest possible flights and even significantly scaled down at that.

  16. @V

    Even a 0.5% probability of dying from COVID-19 is misleading as the overwhelming majority of deaths are among the elderly and infirm. That death rate was exacerbated by the actions of Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo. Among the under-80 set, the most relevant comorbidity is obesity. For some reason the media and public health establishment haven’t made a big deal about this. Obesity was the biggest and most urgent health problem in America before the pandemic. During the pandemic we were informed that it was actually racism.

  17. I am a million miller/75K on Alaska Airlines. I have been flying every month since this so called pandemic has shut everything down, or should I say the government has, and I haven’t gotten even a cold. If my dentist can be in everyone’s mouth every day and not even one person in the office has gotten sick then people can fly. Shutting down the US is nothing but socialism and it should not be tolerated. Hurting the airline, restaurant and hotel business is ridiculous with a virus nothing short of the flu. Yes some people have passed from it but nothing compared to the past years from the flu, and you have to look at the ones that have passed and the states they were from. The highest were from the states that had put sick people in nursing homes that infected other elderly ones, I know I’m from one of those states, Washington where the first cases started in Kirkland in a nursing home! I will not sit locked in my home getting obese waiting on the so called government to let me know when I can live my life again, life is to short. tomorrow you can get hit by a car then where will you be if you haven’t enjoyed the last few days of it!

  18. @ ComeOnMan — Yeah, you need a little work on your math. 525,000 / 326,000,000 = 0.16%.

  19. At least I can get a soft drink on AA. And th e wuhan flu originated from tainted koolaid powder.

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