American Airlines expects to fly less than half of 2019 schedule through February as virus spreads

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American Airlines flight 718, the first U.S. Boeing 737 MAX commercial flight since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, takes off from Miami, Florida, December 29, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

American Airlines expects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to continue to weigh on demand and schedules into 2021, the carrier’s president said Tuesday.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline is flying about 45% of its 2019 schedule this month, Robert Isom told reporters at Miami International Airport, before the debut of the Boeing 737 Max’s first U.S. flight with commercial passengers since it was grounded nearly two years ago.

“We anticipate that’s something that will carry on into January and February. We are hopeful that the vaccine will show some promise,” he said.

American and its competitors have warned investors in recent weeks that a surge in Covid-19 cases and new travel restrictions have hurt fourth-quarter revenue, despite a spike in travelers around the year-end holidays.

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