American Airlines readies more jets to meet rising demand

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FILE PHOTO: First U.S. commercial flight of a Boeing 737 MAX, since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, lands in New York

(Reuters) – American Airlines said on Monday it expects to fly most of its fleet in the coming months thanks to strong domestic and short-haul international bookings as COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations decline and more people receive vaccines.

American said that as of March 26, average bookings for the next seven days had reached 90% of levels experienced before the pandemic upended air travel in 2019, with a domestic load factor of about 80%.

“The Company presently expects this strength in bookings to continue through the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter,” it said in a regulatory filing.

Shares in U.S. airlines, which parked hundreds of jets as demand plummeted last year, have climbed this year amid hopes for a recovery.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1.57 million passengers on Sunday, the highest number since March 2020.

Following the increase in travel demand so far this year, American said it expects its system capacity to be down between 40% and 45% in the first quarter to March 31 versus the same period in 2019, compared to its previous guidance for a 45% decline.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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