US carrier parents AMR (American) and UAL (United) have reported fourth quarter losses of US$214 million and US$547 million respectively. AMR chief executive Gerard Arpey said he now was “guardedly optimistic” that his company can regain momentum this year, but said AMR “faces continued economic uncertainty, slower travel demand and fuel price volatility in 2009”. Both American and United will continue to cut capacity in 2009, with American cutting capacity by more than 8.5 per cent in the first quarter, while United expects first-quarter capacity will drop by about 15 per cent. Chicago-based United also will shed 1,000 salaried and management jobs this year, in addition to 1,500 job cuts announced in 2008. That will bring total employment down 30 per cent from levels at the end of 2007. However, American still plans to invest in new, fuel-saving aircraft this year, while United is sticking to its plan for not spending money on new planes. AMR ended 2008 with US$3.6 billion in cash, while United said it had US$2 billion cash on hand at the end of the quarter.
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